Gained in Translation

Drawing Art History

  • Sarah Jaffray The British Museum


Drawing from drawing is as old as the artist’s workshop: students drawing from their master’s work, tacked to the wall of a studio, began their journey to mastery through faithful copying. Today however, in the wake of post-modernism’s reaction against authority, copying from a ‘master’ feels outdated and has thusly been erased from contemporary arts education.

Since 2014 years the Bridget Riley Art Foundation at the British Museum has worked with over 1,500 university art students to revive and interrogate the value of drawing from drawing as a contemporary research method. In the process of over 200 workshops we found that students who initially dismissed the practice as ‘servile copying’ began to legitimise the process with the language of translation.

Building on this qualitative research, this paper will examine the practice of drawing from drawing through the lens of translation theory, in the manner of Walter Benjamin. By examining it an experience rather than product, the paper will explain the importance of unlocking the phenomenological potentials inherent in this drawing practice.

How to Cite
JAFFRAY, Sarah. Gained in Translation. TRACEY, [S.l.], v. 14, n. 1, p. 1-13, oct. 2019. ISSN 1742-3570. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 19 oct. 2021.