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The Other Side of the Brain

Paul McGillick heads to Bondi’s Art Atrium for Drawn by Design: The Art of Architecture, an exhibition of drawings by notable Australian architects.

The Other Side of the Brain


March 27th, 2012

Let’s get one thing straight: You don’t draw on a computer. Which, when it comes to drawing, suggests two generational time zones – pre-computer and post-computer.

So, it might have been instructive had this exhibition of architects’ drawings betrayed the ages of the exhibitors. On the other hand, perhaps that would have been superfluous, because there is no prize for guessing that these are all oldies.

But Golden Oldies, most of whom can not only draw, but each of whom has a very characteristic style. What they tend to have in common is a reductive quality, reducing things down to simple if expressive lines.

This show has great variety. Glenn Murcutt famously does not use a computer for anything as far as anybody knows. Effectively a sole practitioner, his designs are all hand drawn. And, as we see here, beautifully drawn. They become fascinating microcosms, somehow a rendering of the process of design rather than the finished thing.


Glenn Murcutt, Kempsey Museum

The late Colin Madigan has four drawings in the show and these straddle the gap between say the spontaneous travel sketches of Ken Woolley, Philip Cox, Chris Johnson and David Holm (pictured at top) and Murcutt’s architectural drawings. They are beautifully evocative watercolour renderings and plans of the National Gallery of Australia.


Ken Woolley, Ile St Louis


Alec Tzannes, Barangaroo C5 West

Richard Goodwin worked with Madigan (and Harry Howard) drawing splendid perspectives of the NGA and its sculpture garden. Unfortunately, none of these are in this show, but he does have two highly sophisticated prints reflecting his current work as an artist.

Two works by Paul Pholeros are especially interesting, given his work on housing in central Australia. They are almost like storyboards with a cartoon-like simplicity, but powerfully metaphorical.

But there is a lot more to see in this intriguing show of drawings – not to mention Neil Durbach’s ceramic plates. An insight into what architects do with the other side of the brain?

Drawn by Design: The Art of Architecture is on until Saturday 7 April. Join Richard Goodwin and David Holm in conversation on Sunday 1 April from 2-4pm.

Paul McGillick is Editorial Director of Indesign Publishing.

Art Atrium

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