A Sense of Place

29 November – 10 December 2022

Curated by Philippa Beale

ALICE WHITE Unfurling Beauty

This is the second of three thematically linked exhibitions curated by Philippa Beale, responding to the concept of a ‘Sense of Place’. The SGFA Members’ exhibition encompasses a diverse range of responses to the central idea.  

Founded in 1919, the Society of Graphic Fine Art exists to promote and exhibit original works of art. The emphasis is on excellence in drawings, created by hand. This includes all colours and media: pencil, pen, brush, painting, charcoal, conté, and original printmaking.

The SGFA is the only UK society dedicated exclusively to drawing, and welcomes a growing international membership. The annual SGFA ‘Open’ exhibition has taken place at the Mall Galleries in London since 2021. There are several members-only exhibitions in London, the regions (Watts Contemporary Gallery in Guildford, The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists) and online.

The SGFA encourages Members to take an active part in regional events, social media, videos, drawing days, and the running of the Society itself. 


A ‘Sense of Place’ is used to describe how someone perceives and experiences a place or environment. The term can be used and understood in many ways. It is a multidimensional, complex construct used to characterize the relationship between people and spatial settings. Some geographical places are of special interest to individuals, while to others a ‘Sense of Place’ is a feeling or perception held by groups of people -not by a specific location. It is often used to characterise certain elements which make a place special or unique, or which foster authentic human attachment and belonging. 

Geographers, anthropologists, sociologists andurban planners study why certain places hold special meaning to particular people. Regions said to have a strong ‘Sense of Place’ have an identity which is deeply felt by inhabitants and visitors. 

The term is used in urban and rural studies in relation to place-making and the attachment of communities to their environment or homeland. Anthropologists Steven Feld and Keith Basso define a ‘Sense of Place’ as: 

‘The experiential and expressive ways places are known, imagined, yearned for, held, remembered, voiced, lived, contested and struggled over. Many indigenous cultures are losing their sense of place because of climate change and loss of ancestral homeland, land rights and destruction of sacred places.’

A ‘Sense of Place’ is a social phenomenon. Codes aimed at protecting, preserving, and enhancing places felt to be of value include World Heritage Site designations, the British Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty controls, and the American National Historic Landmark designation. A ‘Sense of Place’ can be our back garden, a place where we grew up, had a good time, or lived in fear: it may even be a place which is completely imaginary.

– Philippa Beale