Drawing Thoughts, Deconstructing Patterns

One of our research practitioners ran a workshop as part of our Katagami in Practice research project, combining exploration of our collection with mindful drawing techniques.

On Wednesday 21st February 2018, MoDA invited visitors to join a workshop on Mindful Drawing. It was facilitated by Sarah Desmarais, a participant in MoDA’s current research project, Katagami in Practice. She is a textile designer maker, crafts researcher and psychotherapist, and teaches drawing in a variety of educational and arts-for-health settings. Her research for the project initially involved drawing the katagami at MoDA, as an exercise in learning to see. The findings of her research led to her developing a series of workshops, including this one on Mindful Drawing.

drawing in a notebook looking at a katagami stencil


Sarah talked to the participants about the value of drawing as a way of recording visual material in a more visceral way than simply taking a photograph or trying to remember an image. The Japanese katagami stencils seem so elaborate that we believe we cannot possibly capture their designs by our own efforts at drawing. Such a task seems too laborious, and we judge our efforts as poor.



katagami stencil with pencils in a drawer



Yet the focus on drawing as process allowed participants to set aside concerns over what they produced, and immerse themselves in the experience of slow looking, seeing things they might otherwise miss. It also allowed them to think about the human mind, how it thinks, and befriend unruly thought processes.





All those who took part soon found themselves immersed in their drawing and looking, and even those who had been told at an early age that they could not draw found the experience rewarding. Sarah was good at encouraging and guiding the group not to be overwhelmed and to interrogate both the objects and activity before them and the thoughts in their head.

MoDA’s collection is rich with resources that lend themselves to this kind of event, and we hope to continue to explore the opportunities for more wellbeing events in the future.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *