First survey of Drawings from the Powerhouse Collection

MAAS-Powerhouse-Astronomer’s-direct-drawing-to-astrographic-plate-illustrating-a-solar-coronaThe Powerhouse has announced that, A Line, A Web, A World – the first in-depth survey of drawings from the museum’s collection will open on Saturday  1 July 2023.

The new exhibition features 227 drawings by artists, designers, architects, musicians, engineers, scientists, and students. It embraces the democratic nature of drawing as a universal tool for communication and considers the question of why we draw.

Historical highlights include a tablet incised with Sumerian cuneiform script, one of the earliest known writing systems dating to 2041 BCE, and a 39-metre hand-drawn navigational chart of the Darling River dating from 1870 to 1890.

Also featured is childhood drawings by Australian inventor Lawrence Hargrave, the Sun’s corona captured by a 19th century astronomer at Sydney Observatory, and botanical drawings by Filomena March Phillipps from the 1880s.

A new large-scale drawing by celebrated Alywarr artist Dion Beasley will be unveiled at the exhibition. Dion is profoundly deaf and has muscular dystrophy. Through drawing he has created an important means of communicating with the world, capturing a deep connection to place and memory.

Recent works include a new acquisition by Noel McKenna including that of the landmark Sharpies Golf House from 1985. Also on display is a silk batik textile by acclaimed artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye in 1988, visual diaries by Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran that offer a rare insight into his artistic process from 2019-20, protest signs including 2019’s School Strike 4 Climate protest placard, and an animated music score by contemporary composer Cat Hope from 2016.

A Line, A Web, A World is the first opportunity to experience the Powerhouse Museum drawing collection in-depth and what it can tell us about political, social, and technological change. We look forward to sharing the many concepts, stories and discoveries articulated through the practice of drawing captured in this new exhibition,” said Lisa Havilah, Chief Executive of the Powerhouse.

“Drawing is an instinctive practice and an integral part of the creative process across so many different disciplines and cultures. A Line, A Web, A World features works from the Powerhouse collection that help us understand drawing’s fundamental role in the act of imagining,” said Katie Dyer, Senior Curator at Powerhouse.

“The exhibition brings together enchanting historical pieces and newly acquired contemporary works to explore the power of drawing in visualising worlds that are either seen, remembered or imagined. This exhibition considers the work that drawings do and highlights their significance’ said Katie Dyer, Senior Curator at Powerhouse.

Alongside the exhibition, Powerhouse will host Drawing Club – a monthly series of drawing classes by leading practitioners with diverse understandings and approaches to drawing, including theatre and performance design, art and activism, and speculative architecture.

A Line, A Web, A World
Powerhouse Ultimo, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo (Sydney)
Exhibition: 1 July 2023 – December 2023
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Astronomer’s direct drawing to astrographic plate illustrating a solar corona, maker unknown, used at Sydney Observatory (supplied)