Seed Commissions 2020: Hannah Whittaker’s Drawing On Wisdom – Mollie’s Story

In Summer 2020, we put out a call for artists and community groups to apply for our Seed Commissions – a way we could support local artists and community groups to get new creative projects off the ground and to try something new in Medway and Swale.

One of the projects chosen was artist Hannah Whittaker’s Drawing On Wisdom.

Bringing together two generations (in a socially distanced way), the project was about connecting children and 80-year-olds in Gillingham through memory, storytelling, drawing and empathy.

Here Hannah shares more about the project, including one of the finished films, Mollie’s Story.


Three photos of older people, Ruth, Mollie and Albert, watching their Drawing On Wisdom films on a laptop, socially distanced from their doorstep.
(from L-R) Ruth, Mollie and Albert, watching their completed Drawing On Wisdom films from their doorstep in early December 2020. Photo c/o Hannah Whittaker


Drawing On Wisdom brought together the older and young members of the community in Gillingham: to share, listen, learn and create, and to contemplate their shared experiences of childhood challenges.

In filmed interviews, Mollie, Albert and Ruth told stories from their childhoods during World War II and the challenges they faced.

These stories were then shown to children, to watch, listen and have the chance to discuss their reactions.

As an exercise in empathy, they then created pictures that illustrated what they’d heard.

Each child focused on the part of the story that most stood out to them the most, whether that be a visual detail or a particular emotion they captured from the storyteller.


You can watch Mollie’s Story below and Albert & Ruth’s stories on Hannah’s website.



Drawing On Wisdom is one of Ideas Test’s Seed Commissions 2020, supported by Arts Council England, the Kent Community Foundation and the Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust

Drawing on Wisdom was also supported by 51 Zero.

Hannah would like to give a special thank you to Ally Sinyard and Gillingham Salvation Army.


To find out more about Hannah Whittaker and her work visit:


Click on the buttons below to share Drawing On Wisdom: Mollie’s Story with your friends and family via your favourite apps.