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A British Museum touring exhibition: Pushing Paper: contemporary drawing from 1970 to now

Pushing Paper illustrates how artists experiment with the power of paper to express their ideas, pushing the medium in new directions.

Amongst the oldest forms of human creativity, drawing is experiencing a resurgence in popularity as artists increasingly choose the medium as a means to examine the modern world, with topics ranging from explorations of gender and political activism to questions of belonging and human sexuality.

For the first time, the British Museum co-curated this exhibition with partner museums from around the UK, including Durham University. In a new way of working, curatorial staff collaborated with the British Museum to decide on themes within the exhibition and to research and select the works on display, as well as contribute chapters to the accompanying catalogue.

You can view the online exhibition here

The exhibition investigates five key themes. Click on each theme to download resources and explore further:

Power & Protest - The artists in our first theme process and question the turbulent world around us, acting as enablers for change and asking whether a drawing has the power to change the world.

Systems & Process - One thing all the drawings in Pushing Paper have in common is the use of a line. From this simple line, different movements and ways of creating have emerged, but drawing remains key to the fundamental basics.

Place & Space - The earliest surviving drawings, made in prehistoric caves, show how humans have always been fascinated with turning an empty ‘space’ into a ‘place’; imbuing it with meaning and marking their presence.

Identity - Everyone has multiple identities based on religion, race, politics, language, culture, profession, sexuality, and gender to name a few.

Time & Memory - Explores the use of drawing to depict the marking of time, evoking the memories of the artists and viewers.

This exhibition is generously supported by the Bridget Riley Art Foundation

Image: Richard Deacon (b. 1949), Some interference 14.01.06, 2006, ink and graphite on paper © The Trustees of the British Museum. Reproduced by permission of the artist.