BA Illustration lecturer Dr Karenanne Knight, Dr Louis Netter and Helena Woolley - first year BA (Hons) Illustration student tell us about their recent trip to Prague.

5 mins


Our visit to Prague

We visited our many haunts that always provide such reflective yet stimulating hours, Prague Palace and castle and its many cathedrals, the Mucha museum, the Dali, Mucha and Warhol museum, the Communist and Illusion museums with breaks in between to draw on the wonderful Charles Bridge and mingle with the tourists at the Lennon wall whilst leaving our mark.

Visiting Terezin and exploring the artwork and new places

A small number of students visited Terezin again, overwhelmed by the atrocities seen but a kinder and certainly far more informed individual for the experience. Moved by the incredibly emotional artwork and at the other end of the scale the vulgarities of the propaganda of the period, we immersed ourselves in the Czech cuisine and found new cafe’s, caverns and catacombs steeped in what seemed like collections of insanely weird instruments of torture, whilst modern Prague kept the Latte loving coffee connoisseurs well fed and watered. 

Students studied the history of Prague amid the Town Hall catacombs whilst others found Kafka and the Jewish quarter an absolute delight, before finishing the trip with a concert in one of the magnificent cathedrals and a trip down the Vltava on a beautiful modern river boat. Prague never disappoints whichever way one turns. So, I thought it might be interesting to compare the viewpoints of this wonderful city through the eyes of the tutor and student. I asked my colleague Dr. Louis Netter and first year BA Illustration student Helena Woolley to describe Prague as they found it. In my eyes it is a city I will return to again and again. It continues to excite me, there is so much to draw, to illustrate, plenty to explore…..but over to you Louis and Helena. Prague, we will be back soon.

BA (Hons) Illustration student Helena said “Excitement means there’s no sleep. We drag ourselves from our places of shelter through the night by National Distress, rail and family kindness to reach Heathrow T5 at 5am. Who Are We? We are Pompey!" 

@pompey_illustration and we’re off to Prague. Wrapped up in layers, bracing for the chill - we land in a city that looks straight out of a gothic fairytale. Each cobbled street and avenue display elaborate and statuesque Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo architecture. Hidden amongst them, much to the dismay of the local tour guide that first evening - there are kindred spirits of Portsmouth city found in the form of Brutalism.

Exploring the Art, Culture, and History of Prague

Time to get your walking boots on and see if you can keep up with the lecturers! We scale hills, climb hundreds of steps or ride trams to visit Prague Castle and see some of the best panoramic views of the city. We cross the mediaeval Charles Bridge, which spans the river Vltava, dodging the flocks of tourists to sketch. We take in the culture of the Opera and get our minds bent in the Illusion Museums. Insider knowledge takes us to the pinnacle of art supply shops (spend all your Czech Koruna here and leave yourself hungry for the rest of the trip….), the university book store full of inspirational graphic novels and the home of KOH-I-NOOR. 

We learn about Mucha and see how one artist dominated the media and creative arts through to home furnishings in the period of Art Nouveau. Whilst there is a respect for the city, if you look you can find a culture of street art and stickering. The Lennon Wall being a continuing beacon for local and global causes.

The Museum of Communism and Terezin give us time to reflect on some of the horrors of recent history and learn more about how the worlds of propaganda and art blur their lines. There’s a wave of people coming home with Czech tattoos. 

Bleary eyed, soles of shoes worn thin, we leave the chill and make our way home back to Teaching Block 2. Thankful for learning about this unique and complicated city. 

Drawings of Prague: Capturing the delights of the city

Please see the drawings from Course Leader of Illustration Dr. Louis Netter. The magical, mediaeval city of Prague holds many visual delights and Netter has tried to capture them in his confident graphite drawings.


Drawing in a city or locale can deepen an understanding of the spirit and character of a place. Students hold more than a record of a University trip in their sketchbooks, they have an emphatic record of their experiences, thoughts and perceptions. Its power persists longer than the mere causal snapshot of the phone camera.