The Big Draw Festival 2019: Drawn To Life is on the horizon, and as organisers all over the globe prepare their events for your drawing pleasure, we chat to the artists, architects, designers, scientists, educators and Big Draw Co-creators worldwide, giving the possibilities of drawing a new lease of life this autumn as part of their Big Draw Festival events.
We are thrilled to be catching up with Leyla Bumbra to hear all about the Courtauld Institute of Art and their involvement in this year's Big Draw Festival!
Hi Leyla! Thanks so much for talking to us today. Could you start by telling us a bit about The Courtauld Institute of Art, it’s history and your work there?
Hi Matilda! The Courtauld Institute of Art is the world's leading centre for research into art history, conservation and curating. The collection houses one of Britain’s best-loved collections. My role, Open Courtauld Producer, sits in the Research Forum. Through our department's unique integration of activities, facilities and resources, we aim to provide an exceptional environment for sharing research at all levels.
The Courtauld’s Big Draw event, on the 5th of October, will be part of our Open Courtauld strand. This strand is all about sharing advanced research in art history curating and conservation in a way that diversifies impact, participation and our audience.
The foundation of The Courtauld Institute of Art was presided over by a triumvirate of collectors, brought together by a common wish to improve the understanding of the visual arts in this country - something which I feel resonates with what we want to do together through the Big Draw Festival. If you wanted to learn more about our history you should check out our website!
What do you think is the significance of art in engaging and educating people on culture and history?
Art is a potent means of communication, a way to shed light on people and the society they live in. Art therefore has a major role in engaging people in culture and history. I truly believe that now more than ever there is a drastic and palpable need to represent the diverse tapestry that makes up society. As the Open Courtauld Strand is inspired to make the Courtauld’s collection and research inclusive in its physical and ideological accessibility and promote the attendance of a broad audience and non-traditional users. The Courtauld, therefore, relishes the opportunity to actively disseminate knowledge around the collection and its care and to diversify those represented and accessing our resources through Big Draw.
We believe that drawing can be life changing; it is an amazing tool for creativity, invention and discovery. We hope that The Big Draw Festival gives people an opportunity to embrace their mistakes, and not be afraid of imperfections in the creative process! The Big Draw's mantra is: ‘drawing to learn, not learning to draw’. With this in mind, do you believe there is such a thing as a “bad” drawing?
I have never believed that there is such a thing as “bad” art or “bad” drawing. By saying “bad” you feed into the structures of one-sided representations, one-track value systems and one-way discourses that dominate “high” art. These discourses normalise the notion that creative practices of some people, genders, races, classes and nationalities are “higher” than others. In challenging the concept of “bad” and “good” and allowing people to express themselves in a supportive environment I genuinely believe we go further in disrupting the confines of conventional art history and art practices that have dominated western art for centuries.
Outside of The Big Draw Festival, does drawing play a major role in the day to day goings-on at The Courtauld? Do you usually see people inspired to take pencil to paper?
This year we have been trialling Courtauld Draw with our students and staff. Hosted by Adrian Dutton, this biweekly class aimed to improve people’s knowledge of art history through drawing. In the period where our gallery is closed it is more challenging to use our collection as a springbroad for creative practice. Therefore through events like the Big Draw, and our biannual RES| FEST, the Research Forum hopes to expand the remit of people inspired to take pencil to paper.
I understand that The Courtauld is undergoing a major redevelopment project, ‘Courtauld Connects’. Could you tell us a little more about this?
Courtauld Connects, which my role is part of, is an ambitious transformation project that will make The Courtauld’s world-class artworks, research and teaching accessible to more people – in the UK and internationally. This multi-million-pound development will transform our Gallery, teaching, learning and social spaces. It will allow us to expand our exhibition programme, including new dynamic spaces for temporary exhibitions. It will also make it possible to present a greater variety of works from The Courtauld Collection, which stretches from the early Renaissance into the 20th century.
This year’s Festival theme ‘Drawn to Life’ aims to shine a light on the pivotal role that creativity can play in our health and wellbeing. How do you think you might incorporate ‘Drawn to Life’ into your Big Draw events this year? Furthermore, does this theme play an important role in your life and work outside of the Festival?
The pivotal role that creativity can play in our health and wellbeing is a core value of everything we do at The Courtauld. So much of our collection follows this logic and tells a story of peoples lives, their histories and our shared memories. On this basis, using drawings from our collection itself, we will showcase the power of creativity to transform lives and encourage people to take pencil to paper on the day and throughout their daily lives.
What should people expect from this year’s Big Draw events at the Courtauld, and why should they get involved?
This year's Big Draw Festival at the Courtauld will be a unique opportunity to study the works of our collection, artworks rarely seen by the public, and hear experts from the Prints and Drawings department share their expertise. Corresponding to the more research related side will be communal drawing experiences dotted around our temporary site at Vernon Square, giving the audience a chance to get creative and be inspired by our collection. We can’t wait to see you all there!
What are some of the benefits you see of taking part in The Big Draw Festival? Is there any advice or guidance you would give to those that are uncertain about registering to put on their own event?
I would 100% recommend that other organisations register to take part in the next Big Draw Festival. The process was so easy and the team have been so supportive!
Thank you to Leyla and the team at The Courtauld Institute of Art!
The Courtauld Institute of Art is one of our Big Draw Festival 2019 Sponsor Partners.
Have you been inspired by Leyla's interview and The Big Draw Festival 2019 theme: #DrawntoLife? Why not join our global Festival in 2019? Registration is now open! Find out more about the benefits of becoming an organiser here and other ways to support The Big Draw's mission here.