I never had any expectations of life modelling – I didn’t know if I’d love it or hate it; whether I’d feel shy or be unable to stay still for any amount of time. I had no idea of what to expect. I sort of just closed my eyes and dived in.
I began to look in to life modelling a little more than 6 months ago. I was beginning to explore my own creativity and love for the arts. I have a deep respect for artists and, though I doubt my ability to hold a pencil, I wanted to be artistic in my own right, in a way I thought I could.
I used to be a gymnast, I have an awareness of my own body and how my body expresses my emotions – through illness when I’m stressed, in my expressive or closed body language in different situations – but that awareness did not automatically equate to a consciousness, and rarely to control.
Coincidentally, at the same time as I was beginning my own creative journey and recognition of my body’s expressive capabilities, I was feeling dissociated from the way my body looked. I felt unattractive, my body had changed since being a teenager – I was beginning to look more like a woman and I felt betrayed. What do you mean I won’t have abs of steel unless I exercise! Why do my curves have to wobble?! And where did that bottom come from?! I knew I was still petite, I just am that build but there was no denying my body was new to me and some how I ‘d have to learn to love it, or I’d be in for years of hell trying to regain my teenage physique.
Meanwhile, I had been in touch with an artist and tutor from Kingston University who put me in touch with you, Lucy. I decided, what better way to reconnect with my body, to regain control and accept my new body than to take my clothes off in front of a bunch of strangers! I jumped in.
From my warm welcome at Spirited Bodies and my initial meet with Esther, I was immediately put at ease. Now all I’d have to do was undo my robe…
Any trepidation I felt before stripping off disappeared the moment my robe hit the floor. This was something I could do and damn it, I would work and concentrate as hard as I can to let these artists know a story about me.
This idea of modelling being an opportunity to tell a story about me is something I keep coming back to. Each session I model I find a theme emerges from the first pose. That then dictates what kind of pose will follow and so on, until I have re-enacted (or just acted) frozen images from previous (or fantasy*) experiences. A whole session allows the kind of freedom of expression I rarely get verbally. I use the language of my body to reconnect with my own thoughts, feelings, memories and try to send those stories out to any artist who might be ‘listening’.
There are times I leave a session feeling, though exhausted, rejuvenated. It is a cathartic, cleansing experience.
I seek to connect with an artist in a non-verbal way where they hear my story and it stirs something in them and they draw accordingly. A synching of experience.
I am a singer and this same ‘synching’ can happen at times musically too. This is when you get the ‘buzz’ and you can feel it coming off all the musicians performing too. There have been times where I’ve come close to this experience through modelling and it is that feeling that I continue to seek. That drives me to concentrate and work hard at each session and to hope for a commission with an artist I connect with in such a way. I would love to be part of a working-relationship to achieve a picture which is an insight into both the artist and the model. Achieved by collaboration.
My preferred length of pose is about 20-30 minutes – at this time I ache enough to have to fight for it, not so much I begin to hate it! I find it is long enough to both test and train my concentration on that ‘tableaux’ that is in my head.
*I want to make a point about life modelling being very removed from a sexual nature for me. I try to express my inner ‘Gaia’ rather than, well you know. I feel nakedness has an innocence about it that is too often forgotten and yes sometimes in nakedness we are sexual beings but I try to avoid being provocative as it’s not something I’m comfortable with. I feel the need to raise this because so many friends (even artists!) think that it is of a sexual nature. So far the one with the greatest understanding, who I told of my ambitions most fearfully, has been my Mum! She is even considering having a go herself.