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Professor Deanna Petherbridge
Deanna Petherbridge CBE is Emeritus Professor and was the first Arnolfini Professor in Drawing, a Research post which links Bristol School of Art, Media and Design with Arnolfini, Bristol.

She joined the University of the West of England in 2002 after a year as a research Scholar at the
Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Between 2001 and 1995 she was Professor of Drawing at the Royal College of Art, London, where she launched the Centre for Drawing Research in 1997, the first doctoral programme in Drawing in the UK. In addition to running the drawing studio, promoting anatomy courses and supervising PhD and MPhil students, she also organised an international lecture series over three years, as well as conferences, seminars, celebrity workshops and drawing events. In 1997 she curated The Quick and the Dead: Artists and Anatomy, a National Touring Exhibition for the Hayward Gallery, and after a British tour, the exhibition was remounted in an extended form as Corps à vif: Art et anatomie , (1998) at the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva.

Petherbridge is both a practitioner and writer about art and has exhibited widely, with works in major collections. Most recently she undertook a four-month studio residency in the
Faculty of Art and Design, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia culminating in an exhibition Two Cities: Two Modernities, (2003). Her mural commissions include a four-floor mural for the International Convention Centre in Birmingham, (1991) and she designed for The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden and Sadlers Wells during the 1980’s. Her practice is drawing-based, predominantly monochromatic ink and wash drawings on paper employing architectonic and geometric imagery in related series or large-scale multi-panelled works. Architecture is used metaphorically in the drawings to deal with social and political themes, including commentaries on Western and Asian cultures. Exhibitions on these themes have been toured by the British Council in India and South East Asian countries in association with lecture tours.

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Deanna Petherbridge’s fascination with the built environment includes a special interest in vernacular architecture (from early industrial buildings to secular and religious village forms in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa) about which she has lectured and published, participating in conferences in India. She has assembled a substantial photographic archive on the subject. In the 1980’s she was closely involved with the Art & Architecture movement, writing about commissions in art and architectural journals (including Architectural Design, Architectural Review, Art Monthly and The Financial Times) and promoting the early-stage involvement of artists in architectural schemes. Art for Architecture: A Handbook on Commissioning was published by HMSO in 1987 and essays on the subject appeared in many other publications on the subject. She was a founding member of the Art & Architecture Advisory Group at the Royal Society of Art, and sat on many consultative panels and juries. Amongst television and radio programmes dealing with these issues, she presented “County Court, Truro by architects Evans and Shalev” for Building Sights, BBC2 in 1991 and participated in Showcase City, Channel 4, and Architecture of the Imagination, BBC2 (1993).

In the 1990’s, with the curating of the National Touring exhibition The Primacy of Drawing: An Artist’s View (1991) her interest became focussed around issues of drawing, including its neglect in Fine Art pedagogy and the need to establish a theoretical and historical study of drawing which is relevant to contemporary practice and theory. In this regard she has written and lectured widely on the subject in the UK, presenting a public series of events at the Tate Gallery, Contemporary Drawing: Exploring the Unknown in 1997 and participating in international conferences and seminars in Europe, the USA and Australia. Public broadcasts on the issue include the five-programme series The Outline Around the Shadow, a Track Record production for BBC Radio 3, which was first broadcast in 1997. Recent publications in the area of drawing include a study of John Flaxman’s historical use of line for the exhibition catalogue Flaxman: Master of the Purest Line, (2003) and a paper delivered at a Henry Moore Sculpture Trust conference, published as “So much for received notions about ‘Sculptors’ Drawings’” in Sculpture Journal, XIII (2005).

After many years of research, generously supported by awards from the Henry Moore Foundation, The Elephant Trust, Schlumberger Foundation “Les Treilles” France, a Leverhulme Fellowship, Research Leave funded by the AHRB and the Getty Research Foundation, she has finally completed a very comprehensive study, working-title Drawing: Making and Thinking which will be published in 2006/7. This book sets out to theorise historical and contemporary Western drawing and its differences and similarities to other aspects of artmaking through wide-ranging analyses of issues of practice and the material and conceptual conditions of graphic production, focussing on individual drawings and the writings of artists.

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