Maps and Dioramas

Week 6: Adaptation Drawing from DioramaS_week 6
Week 7:  Adaptation-Drawing from DioramaS_week 7
Week 8: Adaptation-Drawing from dioramaS_week 8
WEEK 9: Adaptation-Drawing from dioramas_week 9
WEEK 10: Adaptation-Drawing from Dioramas_week 10


Adaptation: Drawing from Dioramas is a project that extends your skills in both observational and conceptual drawing. Maps, dioramas and models have been used for centuries as a means for scientific and creative exploration. Models do different kinds o​f “practical, philosophical and symbolic work for us”*, for example, we can use maps and dioramas to document, invent, experiment and instruct. This project encourages you to apply aesthetic and conceptual processes that adapt and transform the known world, materially and spatially, through drawing.


Mapping is a process of condensing and ordering information about a place; “for artists […] maps have provided—symbolically, metaphorically, and graphically—emblems of power; realms and mazes to be explored; abstract forms to be manipulated; and the shapes of dreams.”* Use the process of mapping as an intermediary step between the three dimensional world and the world of your diorama to explore the possibilities of ‘place’.


Unlike tracings which propagate redundancies, mappings discover new worlds within past and present ones; they inaugurate new grounds upon the hidden traces of a living context. The capacity to reformulate what already exists is the important step. And what already exists is more than just the physical attributes of terrain (topography, rivers, roads, buildings) but includes also the various hidden forces that underlie the workings of a given place.
—James Corner, “The Agency of Mapping” 

in: “At The Border: Tatiana Bilbao and Ayesha S. Ghosh-Where is the border?” See: eflux architecture, 17 May 2020: 

Susan Hiller, Composite Dream May, night of 23/24 August, from Dream Mapping, (detail), 1974
Joe Frost, Denistone, 2016, acrylic on polyester, 152.5 x 198cm
Molly Wagner, Rename the Park, 29 August 2016, hand-drawn map—29.7x 21 cms, photograph of signage in Hyde Park.



The diorama operates as a hypothetical realm in which a change in scale and materiality creates aesthetic and conceptual possibilities that can be further manipulated by using lighting, or unfamiliar viewpoints (eg. birds-eye view, peephole, plan view).​ How can a diorama re-present the world? How can the diorama operate as a subject for drawing?

Camille Gillybœuf, maquette, 2020, paper, glass, kneadable eraser.
Camille Gillybœuf, Igloo sur la banquise d’un autre système solaire, 2020, charcoal on paper, 76.3 x 44.7 cm.
Kendal Murray, Midsummer DayHideaway, 2019, mixed media assemblage 10.5 x 10.5 x 9.5 cm
Camille Gillybœuf, Drawing process, 2020.
Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Celestial Navigation), 1956-58, Box construction. 30.8 x 43.2 x 9.2 cm. The Robert Lehrman Art Trust, courtesy of Aimee and Robert Lehrman.
Yin Xiuzhen, Portable City, Shenzhen, 2003-2008, Suitcase, used clothes, magnifying glass, map, sound 136 x 80 x 25cm (with the suitcase open)


Student Gallery

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Essay on Making Worlds in Art and Science Fiction by Dr Amelia Barikin, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, University of Queensland: makingworldsart

A Working Model of the World: Exhibition first staged at UNSW Galleries, UNSW Art & Design )

Exhibition: Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities” at Museum of Art and Design, New York:

Interview with Paul Pfeiffer who discusses his diorama-inspired sculptures that respond to popular horror movies; “Scenes of Horror — “Poltergeist,” “The Exorcist,” and “The Amityville Horror”