Bodleian invites public to the launch of The Big Draw on 19 September

17 September 2015

The world's biggest drawing festival launches on 19 September in Oxford, inaugurating 1000 events worldwide throughout October.

On 19 September, renowned author Philip Pullman, and new Children's Laureate Chris Riddell, will launch The Big Draw 2015, the 15th international drawing festival, at a free public celebration connecting ten Oxford venues in an explosion of creativity. This will kick-off hundreds of events across the UK and on five continents throughout October, encouraging an estimated 400,000 people to pick up pencil, paint brush, chalk, crayon, charcoal or stylus in order to observe, design, invent, and communicate - through drawing.

At 11am in the Bodleian's Weston Library, Philip Pullman and Chris Riddell will explain the growing importance of visual literacy in words and drawings. Riddell will illustrate live on the Weston Library's big screen a story read aloud by Pullman from his Grimm Tales: for Young and Old. The day-long programme which follows will offer 20 activities for all ages, including an invitation to Draw Together in a huge 'visitor book' in the Weston Library alongside both budding and well-known illustrators like Chris Riddell, Joanna Harrison and Clive Goddard.

Visitors can discover the magic of drawing with a camera obscura or a tablet; make their own artist's books and print on the Bodleian's historic wooden printing press; have their portraits drawn by three talented robots; join a campaign to save endangered birds; make 3D maps; watch a new video by artist Tamarin Norwood; and work with Adam Dant, official recorder in drawings of the recent General Election, to design a utopian library.

A free Walk & Draw Trail will connect ten of Oxford's leading galleries, museums and arts organisations, all offering creative workshops. Participants can draw in 3D at the Museum of the History of Science; join Deadly Knitshade to 'yarn-storm' Radcliffe Square with French knitting; contribute to a never-ending collaborative drawing at Modern Art Oxford; or animate a prequel to The Tempest with digital media at the Old Fire Station.

Young visitors to The Story Museum can decorate a takeaway meal in the Ready, Steady, Colour tent; paint with arrows at the Ashmolean Museum; discover what's hidden inside secret drawers at the Pitt Rivers Museum; and make mini-beast masterpieces and dinosaur doodles at Oxford University Museum of Natural HistoryBlackwell's Bookshop will host cartooning sessions and competitions to accompany a book signing by Chris Riddell.

Throughout the international Big Draw festival (1-31 October), visitors will be able to discover treasures old and new in creative workshops at each Oxford venue, using a map specially designed by artist Adam Dant.

Sue Grayson Ford MBE, Big Draw President, said:

'The annual Big Draw urges communities to breakdown cultural barriers, and individuals to banish inhibitions, pick up pencils and follow their imaginations. Seeing so many organisations and artists demonstrate drawing's vital role in their work adds momentum to our mission to get everyone drawing.'

Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian, said:

'It is very exciting to see the Big Draw launched in Oxford and we're delighted that the Bodleian Libraries are participating, with the newly refurbished Weston Library a key site. Oxford has a rich artistic history and The Big Draw is a wonderful way to showcase the city's creativity, taking inspiration from the amazing artists and world-class collections in many of the participating venues across the city and university.'

Philip Pullman said:

'Drawing is such a pleasure that I want everyone to share it. The feeling of a sharp pencil moving over a piece of good paper is a delight to the hand as well as to the eye. By far the best way to see things clearly is to draw them, and looking and drawing are a key to understanding the world in quite different ways from listening and reading. Literacy is vital, of course, but it would be wonderful to give everyone - adult as well as child - a chance to master picturacy as well.'

To find out more about The Big Draw visit: or download the Big Draw Launch leaftlet (PDF, 1MB) for details of the Oxford launch events.

Image credits: top - Chris Riddell, middle - Adam Dant

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