All Suffolk Archives branches are closed. Please see here for further information

Big Draw 2020 at Suffolk Archives

For October half-term (26th October-1st November 2020), Suffolk Archives has teamed up with The Big Draw Festival and their 2020 theme of  “A Climate of Change”. We are running a drawing competition which focuses on the relationship between people and our living environments and ecosystems; highlighting how we live today and the ways in which we do and do not harmonise with nature.

We hope that you will be inspired by Valerie Irwin’s charcoal drawings of change on Ipswich waterfront, which are displayed on a giant wall in The Hold in Ipswich. You can visit The Hold and see these amazing drawings for yourself.

Age categories and prizes

There are three age categories, 5-11, 12-18, and over 18. Winning entrants will receive a selection of art materials.

How to take part:

  • You can use materials you already have at home, or fill in our online form to request a free pack to be posted to you (please note we have a limited number of packs available)
  • Create your drawing, using whatever materials and in whatever style you like
  • When you have made your drawing, please send it to us by 6th November 2020:

By post:

Drop off your drawing or post it to us at The Hold, Fore Street, Ipswich, IP4 1LRPlease:

Mark the envelope with ‘Big Draw competition’

Make sure to write your name and age category on the back of your drawing

If you would like to tell us a bit about what you have drawn and why do please include this

Include some contact details so we can get in touch if you win!

Note we won’t be able to return your drawing to you

By email:

Photograph or scan your drawing and email it to us at Please:

Send your email with the subject ‘Big Draw competition entry’

Include your name and age category

If you would like to tell us a bit about what you have drawn and why do please include this

Please make sure you use natural lighting when you photograph your artwork to ensure the best result

  • We will select winning drawings and get in touch with the winners about sending their prizes!

Please note that drawings submitted may be used on the Suffolk Archives website and social media and in displays.

The challenge: Capturing Change

As an archive, we keep records of how the world changes, and drawings are an important part of that. This challenge is to make a drawing of something that is changing in Suffolk, inspired by Valerie Irwin’s charcoal drawings of change on Ipswich waterfront.  You might want to draw:

  • A building being demolished or a new building being built
  • Changes in nature/the environment around you (even in your back garden!)
  • Ways that humans interact with our environment

Ipswich artist Valerie Irwin was drawn into the transformation occurring during the demolition of the Cranfield Mill site on Ipswich waterfront. She visited the site almost every day between 2005 and 2009, completing 4,500 A2-sized charcoal drawings capturing dynamic change as it took place around her.

Valerie’s work records a period of great change for Ipswich and will form an important part of the Suffolk Archives contemporary collections. You can see a selection of them (in very large form!) at The Hold. You are very welcome to visit The Hold to see the drawings, but you can also complete this challenge without visiting.

Looking down 'The Street' towards the waterfront, with Valerie Irwin's Change in Charcoal drawings on the left hand side.

Looking down ‘The Street’ within The Hold, with Valerie Irwin’s Change in Charcoal drawings on the left hand side.

You can hear from Valerie herself on what inspired her to make these drawings in this short film:

We look forward to seeing your entries!

The rules

  • Entries need to be received by Friday 6th November 2020
  • All entrants under 19 should ask permission from a parent or guardian before entering
  • We aim to inform all winners within 21 days of the closing date
  • Please make sure you use natural lighting when you photograph your artwork to ensure the best results
  • By submitting an entry you agree for us to use it on our website/social media and in displays
  • By submitting an entry you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions