Draw event: Drawing and Writing – the intersection

Stephen Farthing Drawing and Writing

Thursday 4 February, 5-7pm
The Green Room
Chelsea College of Arts
16 John Islip Street, London

UAL’s Rootstein Hopkins Professor of Drawing, Stephen Farthing led a presentation and discussion around his essay Drawing and Writing the intersection taken from The Drawn Word, edited by Dr Janet McKensie and Professor Stephen Farthing.

“During their making you can see the strength of the relationship that exists between writing and drawing through the ease with which a trained hand will freely move between the two. That is, I suspect, because both are part of our literacy, both are tools of representation and both designed as methods of managing multidimensional matter. What separate them are alphabets, dictionaries and the way they are read.”
Stephen Farthing, 2013

During his presentation, Professor Farthing’s outlined the taxonomy of drawing he has developed, his belief that text is a 2 dimensional rendering of language, how some drawings follow a clear alphabet and strucutre like text which can be read (a map) and those that don’t – (artistic drawings). Farthing emphasised the emotive communicative power of the latter.

Prof Stephen Farthing

Professor Stephen Farthing shares with the audience, a drawing with text he made aged 5.

This event brought together a diverse audience including a wide range of postgraduate students from across UAL (from MA Strategic Fashion Marketing LCF to MA Narrative Environements CSM via MA Animation LCC and MA Drawing Wimbledon), alumni, staff and a handful of externals. A lively discussion ensued between Prof Farthing and the audience, chaired by Tania Kovats, Course Director, MA Drawing. Questions raised included the ‘reading’ of drawings. We have all been taught to read text, but have any of us been taught to read a drawing? Do we in fact ‘read’ drawings, or do we have a completely different realtionship with the information contained within them?


Professor Stephen Farthing is the Rootstein Hopkins Chair of Drawing at University of the Arts London, a Royal Academician where he is Honorary Curator of the Collections and an Emeritus Fellow of St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford. He studied at Central Saint Martins (then St Martins School of Fine Art) and the Royal College of Art.

Download UAL’s Rootstein Hopkins Professor of Drawing, Stephen Farthing’s essay Drawing and Writing the intersection