Drawing on the Archive: Re-evaluating copying for the design curriculum

Pamela Schenk, Mark Parker

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This report of research currently in progress describes an investigative project prompted by concerns about the negative effects on student work of digital copying directly from archival or other visual sources. In the first part of the investigation, now complete, the authors engaged in experimental copying techniques and through discussion of this process devised a formal workshop, the ‘Constructive Copying Workshop’, the main intention of which was to explore the use of paper-based drawing methods for copying from archival material in varied and structured ways. When the workshop was conducted with a group of second year printed textile design students and the drawn output analysed, it was found that both the students’ visual literacy and creative manipulation of archival reference was improved through the process of drawing. Specifically, the aims of the workshop to enhance awareness of the historical context and stylistic characteristics of visual sources and of effective copying techniques were achieved, and a more reflective practice of drawing for design was attained. The second part of the project is currently underway with the same discipline and year student participants, but with some modifications to the original workshop. These include a reduction in the copying vocabulary employed to prompt approaches to drawing and a change of archival image from which to copy. The choice of image proved particularly salient with the more abstract floral pattern selected for the first workshop proving more open to interpretation and deconstruction than the pictorial type of the second. The third part of the investigation is being planned and will encompass good practice garnered from the conduct of the first two workshops. However, the range of the specialist disciplines of the student groups will be extended to other textile/fashion disciplines and year groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-209
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Textile Design Research and Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2019


  • Paper-based drawing
  • Practice-based design research
  • Archive utilization
  • Copying
  • Textile design


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