Displaying Sketchbooks

Sketchbooks present pupils and teachers with an excellent opportunity to share their creative learning journeys, and inspire others to action.

displaying sketchbooks

Here are some ideas about displaying sketchbooks, to encourage a more active and therefore engaging display.

  • A sketchbook corner: Try REALLY HARD not to dismantle sketchbooks! Instead think about them as OBJECTS and think how you can display them as exhibits which can be touched. Think less about traditional ways of displaying artwork, and more about creating a corner or table which in itself creates a sense of visiting, sitting, enjoying – use cushions, a rug, a chair, a pile of sketchbooks… Allow the audience to respectfully interact with the sketchbooks.

  • Create a sketchbook “wall”: If some of your sketchbook work has been created on separate sheets of paper, compile a sketchbook wall. Don’t make it neat and tidy; don’t feel the need to mount pages to display them – keep it what it is – a series of thoughts. This kind of display might seem more like the wall in a working artist’s studio. It will be far more interesting and energetic that way. Keep the phrase “Be Journeyful” in your head as you curate the display.

  • Show context: If your sketchbooks were used to further another activity – e.g. design or research for another art project, display all elements together so the context of the sketchbook can be seen.

  • Think about sharing digitally: explore google slides or other digital galleries to share sketchbooks with a wider audience. You might even choose to embed sound files to add a voice to the display.

  • If possible display pupils sketchbooks alongside sketchbooks from creative practitioners – including teachers.

  • Empower the pupils to decide on the display – take the opportunity to encourage more self-directed experiences / group discussion.

  • Always think about how you can enable activity in the audience… Give your audience access to materials so they can write down their ideas, and start getting into the sketchbook habit themselves – inspired by your display!

“I do have a painless approach to amassing collections of sketches. I often draw on anything to hand; bus tickets, wrapping paper or writing pads. These get taped up onto my ‘inspiration’ wall in my studio alongside all of my art postcards. These little ad hoc drawings eventually get pasted into a ‘scrapbook sketchbook’; which has become a loving collection of mementoes from those pockets of time in between making the tea and washing up, where I capture my life on a small scrap of paper found in the recycling bin. All of these scrapbooks and sketchbooks are my visual diaries.” Emma Davies

“I really want to share the sketchbooks with the parents, so we shall display them at the leavers’ assembly, and again at an open day we will have next term. Our children and staff are still learning how to use them best. Some of our children, particularly the younger ones, have started notebooks and sketchbooks at home and bring them in to show from time to time. Artists’ sketchbooks has been a very useful resource to help the children see how to use their books and how to be cool about what is in their book” Mary-Jane

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