Research project

Witness [DRAWN]

Witness was developed as a new series of drawings for a solo exhibition (curated by Esen Kaya), with eight drawings first exhibited in ‘DRAWN’ – Anita Taylor (solo exhibition).

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Start date

January 2016

Completion date

November 2019






Large-scale and smaller exploratory drawings were developed considering perceptions of identity, self, portrayal, and the theme of ‘witness’, funded by ACE (£15K to researcher).

Taylor worked with curators, a framer and technicians to devise a novel installation sequence of drawings. Seemingly ‘propped up’ against dark grey walls in tight formation, the claustrophobia of one darkened space, filled with room-height drawings of single heads, opened up to a light-filled gallery with more large-scale drawings, engendering an impactful experience and reading of the works.

The Witness drawings were presented in the context of work made throughout Taylor’s career, enabling critical evaluation by peers, writers, curators and audiences. The exhibition was accompanied by a book, DRAWN Anita Taylor (texts by Charlotte Mullins and Taylor) and a film (by Robin Fearon) was commissioned to document the processes of making the Witness series.

The exhibition formed part of the Customs House Year of the Artist linked to the DRAWING NE programme ‘Does Drawing Matter?’. Thrity two education/participation sessions were held with diverse groups. The exhibition achieved headline listing in a-n’s ‘NOW SHOWING #211: The week’s top exhibitions’ (29 August 2017) and an interview in Aesthetica Magazine (online, 11 September 2017). The Witness series was then shown at Young Gallery, Salisbury (2 February - 30 March 2018) in association with ‘Portrait of the Artist: Kathe Kollwitz’ (British Museum/IKON touring exhibition). Weep was shown at: Royal West of England Academy (7 October - 25 November 2018),

The Flesh of Thought at Imperial College London (2 October - 11 November 2019). Two smaller drawings were included in ‘…AND THEN…’ at Global Centre for Drawing, Melbourne, Australia (17 November - 16 December 2018).


Project lead(s)

Professor Anita Taylor