Drawn from Life: People on Paper

An Arts Council Collection Touring Exhibition

Artists have been drawing the human figure for centuries, from carefully composed life drawings to people caught unaware at leisure or work. This exhibition brings together some of the finest drawings in the Arts Council Collection with loans from the British Council Collection.  It begins in the early twentieth century with Gwen John’s delicate lines, the intricate patterns of Harold Gilman and the precision of William Roberts.  Mid-twentieth-century works include the whimsical lines of George Fullard and John Golding and the bold markings of Frank Auerbach and John Bratby.  The story is brought up to the present with the imaginary figures of Charles Avery and Mimei Thompson.

Though there are sometimes surprising similarities across the decades, there is also a great diversity of techniques and approaches. The majority are drawn from observation, though some are from memory or imagination; some are unfinished studies while others are finished works in their own right.   Perhaps some of the most surprising examples are those from very early on in artists’ careers, such as a self-portrait by Richard Hamilton from 1938, the carefully drawn Mrs Ash Asleep by Howard Hodgkin, 1952 and Eduardo Paolozzi’s Drawings from Rembrandt, 1945. 



Usher Gallery, Lincoln 
26 February 2016 - 17 April 2016

Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal 
29 October - 17 December 2016

The Beaney, Canterbury
6 May – 25 June 2017

Leamington Spa, Art Gallery & Museum
7 July – 17 September 2017

Berwick, Granary Gallery
28 October 2017 – 7 January 2018




The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.