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Making a Mark: Dazzling Drawings from the Cottonian Collection

Saturday, February 4


This exhibition showcases over 40 rare and important drawings dating from the 1600s-1700s from The Box’s Cottonian Collection – arguably Plymouth’s most significant fine art collection, and one which has been designated by the UK Government as being of international importance.

‘Making a Mark’ highlights the methods, materials and centuries-old approaches to drawing that still inspire contemporary artists today. It includes a work in chalk and graphite by Rubens (1577-1640) and an ink drawing attributed to Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519).

The drawings show a range of subjects from epic stories to landscapes to fantasy. Many were created by artists who made drawings to test out ideas for larger, final artworks. Some used drawing to both teach and learn.

Others used it as a tool to express their imagination. They were made when traditional materials associated with drawing, such as paper, ink and pencil were more readily available and drawing became an essential tool of artistic practice.

The exhibition also features a selection of plaster casts, ceramics and books and a dedicated space where you can relax, reflect and get creative.

04 Feb – 04 Jun 2023 – 10am-5pm Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays.

Admission free, no need to book.

Upcoming events

Wednesday, July 17
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Bringing together four distinct painters – Bernadette Kerrigan, Chris Martin, Daniel Pettitt, and EJ Hauser – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today explores the formal and informal ways each of them make sense of the world through paint.
Saturday, July 20
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Hettie Judah, writer and exhibition curator, shares insights from her research for her book, Acts of Creation: On Art and Motherhood which explores the joys, messes, myths and mishaps of parenting through visual culture.
Wednesday, July 24
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Take a deeper lunchtime look into ‘The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure’.
Saturday, July 27
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Come and immerse yourselves in an exhibition that explores pivotal moments in Plymouth’s past and present relationship with the sea.

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