Seed Commissions 2020 – Q&A with Hannah Whittaker, artist of Drawing On Wisdom

A young artist creating illustrations for the Drawing On Wisdom films

During the 2020 autumn Half-Term, artist Hannah Whittaker brought her project Drawing On Wisdom to Gillingham’s Salvation Army hall for a socially-distance day of art.

We spoke to Hannah to find out more about the project and what inspired her to create it.


What is Drawing On Wisdom about?
Drawing On Wisdom is a listening and illustration project which aims to bring together the older and young members of the community in Gillingham: to share, listen, learn, create and to contemplate their shared experiences of childhood challenges through the power of storytelling.


A young artist just starting their art during the Drawing On Wisdom workshop.


What inspired you to do the project?
During this time of isolation, I wanted to do something that brought together two very different groups from the community to work together, but remotely.

Older generations love to share stories and younger people generally love drawing pictures from stories and it felt very natural putting the two together.


A group of children creating art for Hannah Whittaker’s Drawing On Wisdom.


How did the workshop in Gillingham go?
I was blown away by the enthusiasm, creativity and focus of the young people that participated.

One group of very keen artists spent over 40 minutes on just one drawing.

We also had some brilliant discussions, hearing the stories and talking about the ways in which the childhoods of Mollie, Albert and Ruth (the older people who were part of Drawing On Wisdom) were different, but also the way they were similar to theirs.


What’s next for Drawing On Wisdom?
Next, I will be editing together the audio stories from the older participants with the illustrations from the younger participants to create three final films.

These will be exhibited online from December, but then there are also plans to exhibit them in public venues around Medway from January, so keep your eyes peeled!


[All photos c/o Hannah Whittaker, taken during the Drawing On Wisdom workshop, Oct 2020]


Another young artist creating art for Drawing On Wisdom.


We’ll keep you updated on where you can see Hannah’s finished Drawing On Wisdom film.

To find out more about Hannah and her work, visit her website:


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