Back to the Drawing Board

There has been a lot of discussion recently, led by John Byrne and others, about the decline of the study of drawing in Scottish art schools – Glasgow has been singled out for particular criticism but it is certainly not alone.

When Mackintosh designed the Glasgow School of Art he was responding to a brief that required studios that catered for a particular emphasis on drawing for students of all disciplines. Drawing was at the heart of all art school teaching in Scotland until at least the mid-1980s. Its impending demise was signalled by a newspaper debate in the 90s when the then head of Fine Art at GSA replied to me, saying, “If the answer is a drawing, I cannot imagine what the question would be”. He later admitted that he did not – could not – draw, himself.

There is an incredible number of talented artists in Scotland to whom drawing remains important. And a growing unease among contemporary students that they have little encouragement from their tutors to study it.

I am devoting our summer exhibition this year, therefore, to the art of drawing, entitled ‘Back to the Drawing Board’.