Hundreds of people took a break from shopping at Swindon Designer Outlet on Saturday 23 October to take part in The Big Draw Swindon Style. The free event was one of around 1,500 Big Draw events organised as part of the national Campaign for Drawing whose patrons include illustrators Quentin Blake and Gerald Scarfe, architect Norman Foster and artist David Hockney.
The Big Draw Swindon Style was unique among the campaign’s events “All the other Big Draw events are organised by, and take place at, arts or educational settings such as galleries, libraries, schools and arts centres – places that sometimes intimidate ‘non-arty’ people. We wanted to make drawing accessible to everybody” said organiser Kate Parsons.
Art in an Unusual Setting
Artist Co-ordinators Jo Beal and Kate Parsons approached Swindon Designer Outlet and Swindon Does Arts with the proposal for The Big Draw Swindon Style that included drawing activities for all ages and abilities: drawing on specially prepared furniture, drawing at an artist’s easel, still life drawing, decorating a paper shopping bag, dot-to-dot drawing, a ten metre continuous drawing of participants’ journeys, and a special character drawing workshop with local illustrator, Fred Blunt. The event was opened by Culture Swindon’s Helen Miah, and Swindon artist Ken White. Mr White brought along his portfolio and chatted with people about his career as an artist throughout the day.
“We were so pleased that Swindon Designer Outlet had the vision to accept our proposal and support the event. Some participants had travelled to Swindon from as far as Tetbury and Bath especially for the event, others came across it as they were shopping”.
The Big Draw Swindon Style space was consistently full throughout the day.
Taking place during the 175th anniversary of the Great Western Railway the drawing activities reflected Swindon Designer Outlet’s railway heritage and the modern world of design and retail – “Did you know every designer item you buy at Swindon Designer Outlet started with a drawing?”
Drawing on the community
Organiser Jo Beal said “We really wanted to hold an accessible arty event because we know that drawing and the arts are an important part of daily life. We wanted to provide an opportunity for people to come together to try their hand at drawing, rediscover a forgotten interest or indulge an existing passion for drawing.”
“I was so pleased to see lots of adults, as well as children, stopping to draw” commented artist Caroline Powell, who along with her daughter Rosie Maltezos and fine art student Heather Dash helped make the day such a success.
Drawing goes on and on and on…
Swindon Borough Council has already spoken to the organisers about a possible ‘Big Draw tent’ at the Swindon Does Arts Big Arts Day which had 20,000 attendees last year. Participants, who were asked for their feedback, have given Kate and Jo lots of ideas for future events, and many expressed an interest in joining the online sketching community the organisers plan for next year.
The drawings made at The Big Draw Swindon Style are now exhibited online at www.bigdraw-swindon.co.uk . It is hoped that an exhibition of the drawings plus event photos by Crate Photography of Calne will form an exhibition in Swindon later in the year.
The event was funded by Swindon Designer Outlet and Swindon Does Arts. Art materials were donated by WHSmith. Other local businesses OriginZone printers, Papermill, John Lewis, Tefal, Framework Arts & Crafts also gave their support.