The farmyard at Shatwell sits in a small valley in the West of England. Besides cows and tractors, it houses a collection of many thousand architectural drawings and models, from the 16th to the 21st century. The Drawing Matter Collection has been assembled over the last twenty-one years and focuses on architectural drawings as works of exploration and discovery, particularly through sketches, sketchbooks, models, study and presentation drawings. It sits within a special archive and a small gathering of architect designed buildings, which together comprise the Shatwell Project.
The Drawing Matter website provides a platform for exploration of the material at Shatwell, alongside drawings from collections elsewhere and those currently being produced in practice. The drawings we publish are accompanied by short texts generously provided by our growing list of contributors. Between them they begin to reveal the dynamics of a unique field of architectural knowledge that is still a creative force in education and practice, curating, writing and research.
Speculative enquiry, expressed in ways that often go well beyond a pencil and paper, is central to the conception of architecture. Drawing not only provides ways to think through design ideas, the drawings themselves are integral to the way ideas about the built world are disseminated and interpreted. A critical artistic and cultural practice in their own right, they reflect changing ideas about the relationships between buildings and space, materials, technology, history, conventions and context, as well as their continuities in practice.
Our collecting and curating philosophy thus begins with the drawing itself. We look hardest at the practice of representation: at the intentions with which the drawing is made, the conventions on which it depends, the real and imagined architecture it reproduces, and at what the designer’s hand might show which the building itself cannot.
The website offers a forum in which relevant material from our own and other collections is made more visible and available for discussion, supported by associated events and publications. We are grateful to everyone in our network of institutions, museums and galleries; educators, curators, scholars, collectors and archivists; architects, artists, writers and critics, historians and friends from around the world.
If you would like to stay in touch please sign up to our mailing list. We will send you an Update email every week or so with three of the most recently published drawings or events, excerpts from their accompanying texts and links to the site.
Subject to demand, the Collection itself may be visited, on application, by qualified researchers, teaching studios and seminar groups. For more details see here.