Free Drawing School

The Free Drawing School 2018 - 2021

The Free Drawing School is a programme of experimental drawing, inspired by Hospitalfield’s historic walled gardens, and is an ongoing narrative alongside the development of the new gardens at Hospitalfield.

Free Drawing School is led by an artist local to the area (DD postcode) who conducts workshops and events that take place on site at Hospitalfield, within the garden, schools and community groups and at our open weekend events.


Year One Artist Fergus Tibbs

Fergus Tibbs is an artist based between Glasgow and Dundee. Tibbs was the Free Drawing School artist in residence from June 2018 – May 2019. In his year at the helm of the Free Drawing School he explored ways of engaging different community groups in workshops and slowly creating an archive of found objects and experimental drawings.

Fergus is interested in the different methods and rules that can be used to build and realise collaborative projects. He is interested in the catalytic possibilities that these frameworks can have on a group engaged in creative activity and the way that these systems can emulate and critique infrastructures in society.

He graduated from fine art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in 2016. He has been a committee member at Generator projects. As an artist he acts as a facilitator, maker, participant, director, curator, promoter. Past works include discussions, experimental club nights, workshops, ephemeral happenings, exhibitions and publications.

Year Two Artist Laura Darling

Laura Darling is an illustrator and artist based in Dundee. Her practice is underpinned by drawing, looking, noticing and recording visual details as a way of re-thinking our everyday surroundings. The subject matter she represents varies from animals and the natural world to people and built environments, often combined with hand-lettering. Primarily she uses pencil, ink and watercolours, combining traditional techniques with digital tools to produce playful illustrations.

In May 2021 Laura Darling and Hospitalfield published In The Garden At Hospitalfield, a graphic novel hilariously describing 800 years of the history of the Hospitalfield gardens, from the plague to the pandemic and lots in between.

Images courtesy Hospitalfield and Thomas Flannagan

Year Three Artist Kirsty McKeown

Kirsty McKeown is an artist based in Dundee. She graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone in 2012. Recent projects have focused on the influence of war-time Britain on the changing roles of women at work, with specific reference to four factors: political, physical, industrial and domestic. She works with materials and processes including college, printmaking, analogue photography and altered objects; using found materials and her immediate environment as inspiration.

​Since March 2016 Kirsty has run Chainworks Studios in Dundee, which hosts a varied collective of visual artists and makers in the east of Dundee. She is co-organiser of Dundee Zine Fest and teaches Art and Design at Glasgow Clyde College.

For the residency, McKeown will be looking at the social and botanic history of the area surrounding Hospitalfield and of Arbroath itself; taking influence from the migratory lives of the Arbroath fisherwives and the Angus botanist Ursula K. Duncan. She will begin her residency by undertaking a series of walks retracing their steps, using drawing, photography and collecting to create new work around walking, waymakers and paths of resistance.

McKeown will spend the year developing her own work and generating a welcoming workshop environment for participants that will encourage experimentation as they work alongside her; with activities including the creation of drawing tools and cameraless photography. She is interested in gathering an understanding about place through seeing, learning and drawing here in the garden at Hospitalfield.

In 2021 Kirsty McKeown invited people to participate in The Arbroath Correspondence School – a postal project to exchange small analogue artworks.

Since March 2020 to 2021 Kirsty delivered art sessions almost entirely remotely as part of her work in further education and through further projects including the Free Drawing School. This near constant demand for instantaneous online communication has led to digital fatigue…!

Kirsty formed The Arbroath Correspondence School as a direct response to these demands. The Arbroath Correspondence School rejects the expectation of 24/7 always on communication and seeks to reinstate a sense of human connection and mutual learning utilising the postal service for the distribution of slow art.

Taking its primary inspiration from the history of Arbroath and its surroundings The Arbroath Correspondence School acted as a knowledge exchange; with participants collaborating and contributing to these small analogue artworks that will take the form of drawings, collage, prints and various other slow ways of making.

The Arbroath Correspondence School is now the Dundee Correspondence School and is open to anyone from any background from anywhere who is able to receive and/or send mail, no art experience is required to participate. You will be invited to contribute and alter the artworks you receive and will be encouraged to return them as part of the knowledge exchange; but are under no obligation to do so.

In November 2021 Hospitalfield held an exhibition to celebrate and chart  Kirsty McKeown’s twelve months Free Drawing School residency.

Time, duration, distance and a desire to connect with others during lockdown using non-digital methods are the fundamental inspirations behind the work in this exhibition.

As restrictions on gatherings and travel were tightened again McKeown began methodically recording her limited permitted journeys through photography, drawing and mark making; the repeated actions becoming a way of counting the days and mapping time.

McKeown’s work included a series a photograms that capture the ebb and flow of the tides in Arbroath and Auchmithie, drawing parallels with the strange lockdown phenomenon of time seemingly contracting and expanding. Printmaking plates strapped to the bottom of boots; gouging a record of travels, transit drawings and video.

The Arbroath Correspondence School Archive was displayed; featuring almost 100 pieces of mail art including two collaborative works created with The Correspondence Collective.

Free Drawing School Online

The Free Drawing School Online was devised during 2020 when we could not meet in person and the nation was in lockdown. Using our website and social media Hospitalfield announced a different drawing challenge each week for people to get involved with at home Mondays between 10am-12pm and guided live by the artist, answering questions and responding to people’s work as they posted on the event page.

These Free Drawing School challenges were designed to be done at home with the resources you can bring together from your drawers and cupboards. These included challenges such as making your own drawing tools, rule base drawing, drawing doorways and connecting with the outside by drawing through windows.

Archive of Challenges
Past challenges with artists Laura Darling, Mick Peter, Sally Hackett, Camille Chedda, Fabiola Carranza, Mark Aerial Waller, Aniara Omann, Luke Pell, Rachel PimmFrance-Lise McGurn, Mandy McIntoshJade Montserrat and Isabel Cordeiro can be found here.


Image courtesy of Luke Pell, Laura Darling and Hospitalfield

Free Drawing School Online Challenge - Learning Resources


The Free Drawing School is made possible with generous funding support from The Robertson Trust and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.