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First Survey of Drawings from the Powerhouse Collection

May 4, 2023

Image: Astronomer’s direct drawing to astrographic plate illustrating a solar corona, maker unknown, used at Sydney Observatory, NSW, 1900-1950. (Detail).  


Powerhouse today announced A Line, A Web, A World, the first in-depth survey of drawings from the museum’s collection, opening 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. Also featured is a 39-metre hand-drawn navigational chart of the Darling River dating from 1870 to 1890, 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’s 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 the 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. The exhibition brings together enchanting historical pieces and newly acquired contemporary works to explore the power of drawing in visualizing 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
1 July 2023 – December 2023
Free, no registration required


Siân Davies | | 0402 728 462
Sasha Haughan | | 0405 006 035
Kym Elphinstone | | 0421 106 139

About Powerhouse
Powerhouse sits at the intersection of arts, design, science and technology and plays a critical role in engaging communities with contemporary ideas and issues. We are undertaking a landmark $1.4 billion infrastructure renewal program, spearheaded by the creation of the flagship museum, Powerhouse Parramatta; expanded research and public facilities at Powerhouse Castle Hill; the renewal of the iconic Powerhouse Ultimo; and the ongoing operation of Sydney Observatory. The museum is custodian to over half a million objects of national and international significance and is considered one of the finest and most diverse collections in Australia. We are also undertaking an expansive digitisation project that will provide new levels of access to Powerhouse collections.