Ortelius Drew* is a collaborative, mobile, and performative drawing project led by artists Doreen Wittenbols (Amsterdam) and Ilga Leimanis (London). Taking the city as their principle subject matter, they focus on public settings of leisure (gardens and parks), sites of temporary architecture as well as public museum collections. As present-day flâneurs, they move through the city establishing temporary, yet deeply empathetic and intimate relationships with all that they see – all the while conscious of both contemporary and historic gendering of public spaces.

Ortelius Drew situates itself within the realm of what Nicolas Bourriaud defines as Relational Art “an art taking as its theoretical horizon the realm of human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an independent and private symbolic space” (2002, p 14). The artists of Ortelius Drew work both individually and together in public. They employ sketchbooks to record, collect and process information. They also draw when traveling and record sights, tastes and sounds as social practice. They explore the following, in no particular order: drawing from direct observation; sketching as conversation; working in multiples (eventually from memory), etc., resulting in whimsical images.

Ilga and Doreen lead drawing groups in their respective cities; and in the process, they attract observers from the public – who in turn take part in the broader, participatory aspect of this work. Notably research-based, Ortelius Drew’s goal is to gain a greater insight into public exchanges in the city.

* The project’s origins were loosely based on Phyllis Pearsall, the artist and businesswoman who single-handedly mapped out London and published the first “A-Z Atlas” in 1936. Following adventures through maps we were interested in deepening our connection to cartography: discovering Abraham Ortelius who was recognised as the creator of the first modern atlas the Theatre of the World / Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.


Canadian artists Ilga Leimanis and Doreen Wittenbols met while studying at Concordia University in Montreal. Since its conception in 2007, this collaboration has led both artists to run drawing groups in their respective cities. Ortelius Drew participated in the Kanaal 10 artist residency and has exhibited work in London, Amsterdam, Manchester and Berlin. In 2010, they were commissioned to create a site-specific installation for the annual Open West exhibition in Cheltenham, UK. Ortelius Drew also runs drawing workshops and events.

Montreal born Ilga Leimanis MA is a London-based visual artist who works in drawing and painting. Her paintings have been exhibited in Canada and Europe, most recently a series on Friendship in the Digital Age together with an interdisciplinary seminar in Riga, Latvia. Ilga is currently developing a new research-based series from the military collection of Kings College London Archive.

Short Course Tutor at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Ilga teaches courses on drawing and research-based process. For Drawing At Work she teaches at leading architect and engineering offices in London, including Foster+Partners, Make and Adams Kara Taylor among others. More information:

Doreen Wittenbols (born Breda, The Netherlands) is a Dutch-Canadian visual artist currently working in Amsterdam. Upon graduating from the Ontario College of Art & Design for drawing and painting she was the recipient of the academic Governor-General’s award – one of the highest honours that can be bestowed to Canadian artists. Wittenbols completed her MFA from Concordia University where she also taught a painting class for first-year undergraduate students. She has received several academic scholarships, as well as, funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and Les Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Quebec. Wittenbols participated in two Dutch artist residencies and has exhibited work in Canada, the UK and the Netherlands. Her paintings can be found in private, public and corporate collections. More information:


Born in 2007. Lives and works in London, UK and Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Solo Exhibitions
2014 popUP & popOFF, flutter_, London, UK.
2012 A Plotted Affair, A Collaboration with Rochelle Fry, Five Years, London, UK.
2008 Take Off, Dokhuis Gallery, Amsterdam.

Groups Exhibitions
2013 Tekenkabinet, Kunstsalon Assen, Assen, The Netherlands.
2013 Tekenkabinet, Museum Waterland, Purmerend, The Netherlands.
2013 Anonymous Drawings 2013, Galerie Nord/Kunstverein Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany.
2011 Drawn Together, Siena Art Institute, Siena, Italy.
2010 The Moment of Privacy Has Passed, The Usher Gallery, Lincoln, UK.
2010 CUBEOpen Exhibition, Centre for the Urban Built Environment, Manchester, UK.
2010 The Open West, The Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum and Summerfield Gallery, Pittville Studios, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK. (Catalogue)
2009 Personally Political, Contemporary Sensation: Drawing, Art House Tacheles New Gallery, Berlin, Germany. Curated by Barbara Fragogna. (Catalogue)
2008 VK4 Studios Opening Exhibition, Volkskrantgebouw, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Events / Residencies / Workshops
2012 Drawing workshop around development of King’s Cross area for 1st International Conference on Urban Sustainability and Resilience, University College London, London, UK.
2012 Big Draw at Battersea Pumphouse Gallery, London, UK.
2012 Late Night Live: Draw, Turner Contemporary, Margate, Kent, UK.
2012 SUPERNORMAL festival, Braziers Park, Ipsden, Oxfordshire, UK.
2010 Drawing DiverCITIES with the Bartlett School of Planning MSc. Urban Regeneration students and local community groups, London, UK.
2008 Stichting Kanaal 10, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Private collections in the UK

2012 Cover image, PhaenEx, journal of existential and phenomenological theory and culture, vol 7, no. 1 (spring/summer 2012).

2010 Walters, Sarah, review, “Hats of to Winners of Cube Open”, Going Out-What’s On Around Town, Metro, 30 November 2010. p 39.

Walters, Sarah, review, “Host of new art for the Open-minded”, M.E.N., CityLife, 26 November 2010. pp. 16-17.

Luzar, Robert, review, “The Open West 2010″, Interface, a-n 14 March 2010.

Fearns, Robert, Cluer Coleman, Lyn & Goodwin, Sarah. The Open West 2010. Cheltenham: University of Gloucestershire and Two Wood Press, February 2010. 43 pages [catalogue].

2009 Fragogna, Barbara, & Reiter, Martin. Personally Political – contemporary sensation: drawing. Berlin: Tacheles e.V., June 2009. 44 pages [catalogue].

2008 The Marmite Prize 2008. London: Susak Press, 2008. 180 pages [catalogue].

Ilga Leimanis
2004 Master of Arts, Concordia University, Montréal, Québec. Concentration: Art History and Painting
1999 Bachelor of Fine Arts (with distinction), Concordia University, Montréal. Concentration: Art History
1995 Bachelor of Fine Arts, Art Academy of Latvia, Riga, Latvia. Concentration: Painting

Doreen Wittenbols
2002 Master of Fine Arts, Concordia University, Montréal, Québec. Concentration: Painting
1997 A.O.C.A.D. Diploma with Honours, Ontario College of Art & Design, Toronto, Ontario. Concentration: Drawing & Painting


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