Miranda Creswell

image of North Norththembira

Harriet Martineau letter Harris Manchester archive detail

Drawing writing

The exhibition Drawing Writing at Harris Manchester College in Oxford in 2007, looked at the similarities between the hand written and the hand drawn, by presenting enlarged details of handwriting and presenting them as drawings.

For her material Miranda Creswell asked each member of staff and students at the college to write three sample words of their choice. These words were photographed and enlarged, edited by the artist. She was given access to the college archives and took photographic samples from, amongst others: Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), the first person to isolate oxygen, and Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) abolitionist, religious dissenter and feminist.

She then compared children’s handwriting from different periods, shown here: a Victorian and a contemporary child’s handwriting. The idea was to question if there is a transition between the expressive first drawings of a child and the teaching of letters forms.


Edith Martineau 5 years old


Primary school child aged 5


Harris Manchester exhibition ‘drawing writing’


Librarian, Sue Killoran detail