Drawing For Life

by BTM

Wed, 02 October 2019

Dr Sarah Clarke

Organiser, Dr Sarah Clarke, on introducing a new festival making its debut in Bahrain in collaboration with the RIA Centre.

Whether you’re an aspiring artist or just curious about drawing, Bahrain’s first Big Draw Festival Event, taking place from October 24-26 promises an exciting three-day happening, where all abilities can explore their creative side.

Established in 2000 in the UK, The Big Draw ( expects to attract over 500,000 participants worldwide in more than 25 countries at no fewer than 1,000 events this year.

“It’s a celebration of all forms of drawing to encourage people to grab a pencil, crayon, charcoal, chalk – anything really – and just draw!  This year’s Festival theme is “Drawn to Life” and links creativity with wellbeing, a goal being to show how drawing and creativity can help our mental health; something which, in this increasingly fast-moving, technologically driven world, can easily get overlooked as we try to juggle more and more things” says Sarah, Founder of Baloo’s Buddies. 

“This October marks RIA’s 20th year,” says RIA Co-Founder Christine Gordon MBE. “And we’re delighted to be staging the first ever Big Draw event in Bahrain. To ensure that everyone can take part, we won’t just be drawing with pencils and paper in the conventional sense, we’ll be sticking, colouring, painting, sewing and more so that everyone can participate to the best of their abilities.  And, we’ll be using up-cycled, recycled and repurposed things to minimise our impact on the environment.” 

“For The Big Draw Bahrain – 2019,” says Sarah, “we’ve chosen the art of the labyrinth as our connection between drawing and mental wellbeing. Labyrinths have been widely used by many cultures to support mental health, promote inner peace and improve general wellbeing.  Unlike mazes, a labyrinth is not a puzzle to be solved, it’s a spiral course with a single, winding, unobstructed path from the outside to the centre. Labyrinths come in all shapes and sizes, they can be permanent structures or lines made in the sand or ones you can trace with your finger, eyes or pencil.  They can be made from all sorts of materials - sand, pottery, wood, fabric, bottle tops.... just about anything really.

“We’ll be making a giant, wheelchair accessible, walkway out of more than 1,000 pieces of broken pottery, as well as teaching participants how to draw a labyrinth on paper and creating tactile finger labyrinths so that visually impaired people can also experience the art of labyrinths.  We hope to relocate the finished pathway to a garden so that Bahrain has a permanent space where people can relax and simply breathe.  We’re delighted that The Avenues has given us the opportunity to use its space for our event.”

Volunteer Amanda Clerkin adds: “As you can imagine, there’s a lot of prep work before an event of this nature. So, we would be delighted to hear from anyone who has a few hours to spare, as well as school and community groups who want to take part. One of the best things about this kind of hands-on events is that we engage with people from all walks of life. For some, simply making a connection with people in a fun and relaxed atmosphere gives them a mental boost and may help to reduce loneliness for those living a long way from home.”