A Line A Web A World is a constellation of drawings from the Powerhouse Collection that traverses thousands of years and refuses conventional definitions of what a drawing can be.
Drawings are an integral part of the creative process for humankind, from children, artists, designers and architects, to engineers, cartographers, mathematicians and scientists. This first in-depth look at drawings from the Powerhouse Collection embraces the democratic nature of drawing and considers the question of why we draw.
This exhibition presents 230 drawings including a 4000-year-old Sumerian cuneiform tablet; a 37 metre navigational chart of the Darling River (1870–90); Australian inventor Lawrence Hargrave’s childhood drawings; the Sun's corona captured by a 19th century astronomer at Sydney Observatory; botanical drawings by Filumena March Phillipps (1880s); a wall drawing by Agatha Gothe-Snape, and digital drawings for Kaps Freed music composition (2016) and Untitled Goose Game (2019).
Drawings have a unique ability to capture intimacy and immediacy of thought and gesture, and are enmeshed in so many facets of life. They are an integral part of the creative process for artists, designers and architects, as well as engineers, cartographers, mathematicians and scientists. This first in-depth look at drawings from the museum’s collection embraces the democratic nature of drawing and considers the question of why we draw.
As one of the oldest forms of human expression, drawing has been a mode of documentation, duplication and communication and as well as a method of discovery, interpretation, imagination and desire. The exhibition reflects these approaches through the multitude of drawing techniques on view, including digital and animation, pen and ink, clay and even light and wax. The drawings capture painstaking creative processes and technical conventions, as well as the shorthand of direct, simple marks revealing private processes of discovery and thought. From a 4000 year old Sumerian cuneiform tablet to a contemporary digital composition for piano and electronics, the drawings shared here are marks that act as a language and a place for thinking.
As lines moving through space and time, revealing ideas, forms and speculations, drawings have endless potential. This view of drawing is further expanded through the work of Agatha Gothe-Snape. Known for her improvised drawings, scores, diagrams, and text-based works, Agatha in collaboration with the exhibition team developed the series of 95 texts which make up the title of the exhibition. This web draws together connections and associations in relation to what we see and what the hand is trying to tell us. Appearing on the walls of the gallery, Agatha’s active, reflective work responds to the drawings on display, creating contours around their relationships. Through her scribing and diagrammatic style this work embodies the economy of means drawings have in shaping ideas and knowledge into form.
Assembled from myriad timeframes and cultures, the drawings in A Line A Web A World are organised around the idea of the work drawings can do. The writer John Berger described the act of drawing as a ‘… record of one’s discovery of an event — either seen, remembered or imagined’. The exhibition is structured around this idea with the intersecting formations of Seen, Remembered and Imagined holding certain drawings, but also encouraging their overlapping and entangling at other times. This borderless approach to drawings presents observational, diagrammatic and conceptual methodologies, creating this specific constellation from the thousands of drawings in the care of Powerhouse.
– Katie Dyer, Senior Curator
On Gadigal land
500 Harris St
Ultimo NSW 2007
Free entry, suitable for all ages
1 July 2023 – 4 February 2024
Large Print Guide
Request a copy of the large print guide upon arrival, or print it out before you arrive.