Drawing week

Drawing the NAS Site

In March this year the NAS Collection had a unique donation from the estate of former student and teacher Tom Thompson (1923-2019). Tom constantly drew the NAS site, using maps and buildings to tell its history. Taking on the idea of mapping the site, students will be shown Tom’s original drawings and watercolours as a starting point for this project.

You will be able to book tickets from 9:30am on Wednesday 29 January.


Lecturer: Deborah Beck

Location: NAS Archive (Building 11) and Hoff Loft

NAS archivist and collections manager Deborah Beck will provide access to original maps, drawings and photographs in the NAS Collection for you to draw from, or for research for your project. This is a rare opportunity for you to gain direct access to items in the collection which relate to the site of Darlinghurst Gaol and the National Art School. You will be given a guided tour of the collection and the site and will be able select material to work with during Drawing Week. You can draw in the archives, the studio or on site.

Panorama of site, Tom Thompson

The challenge will be to draw either the whole art school site, or a section of the streetscape or buildings. Think about how to approach our environment. Do you start with Chapel and work around the buildings, or at the front gate? One option is to work from the balcony of the chapel and draw the whole site from there. You could draw the facades of each building in detail, look at the negative spaces between them, draw doorways and windows only, the tunnels under the buildings, silhouettes of the buildings, or the people who walk past them.

Forbes Street wall, Tom Thompson

You will be encouraged to work in a wide variety of formats and mediums for this project. The works could take the form of a concertina book, a 3D pop up drawing, a circular shape, or a scroll.

Many artists have drawn a city narrative, journey or representations of the urban environment in books. Wendy Sharpe did drawings of her walk through Newtown to her studio. Ed Rusha has used photographic images of streetscapes in America since the 1960s. And this year NAS student Isabella Edwards depicted the site on a unique ceramic piece, now in the NAS Collection.

Deborah Beck is an artist and historian who has taught at the National Art School for twenty years. She is currently lecturer in drawing, collections manager and archivist at the NAS. She has held 18 solo shows and exhibited as a finalist in the Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize and the Dobell Prize for Drawing at the Art Gallery of NSW and the Kedumba Drawing Award. She has written three books based on the history of the National Art School including a biography of sculptor Rayner Hoff.

NAS site c1960