Our recent event returned us to Spirited Bodies’ beginnings in 2010 in terms of the venue. My personal beginning in terms of my parents were also present; they were modelling for portrait.
At The Mall Galleries, most of the artists knew what to expect, though since our last collective visit we have evolved and are now entrusted to take over the whole evening’s models – not only those for shorter poses. We provided models for a long pose – recreating Michaelangelo’s ‘Pieta’, as well as a group of 7 models for some group poses, and my parents to hold the portrait pose for 2 hours.
I had worried in advance about the long pose – we have never asked our models to hold such a long pose before, and felt like it might be a bit much. The idea to recreate a masterpiece however I think incentivises models and adds a sense of purpose. Group posing does not happen very often, and such iconic themes, well it’s like performing Shakespeare if Shakespeare wasn’t on all the time. The models for this pose need to have some experience, and preferably a longer term interest in life modelling. It’s more than a one-off and their aptitude must be clear. A model from Nottingham was down for the session and I knew he had years of experience. For the females in the tableau there did not seem to be anyone suitable booked already so I looked among previous Spirited Bodies who I knew were taking it further. Then for the last male, the Jesus figure in fact, a late entry came in the form of a male model from Birmingham. He had contacted me about drawing at an event as he is an artist. Then it transpired he had a model who is an 82 year old woman who is keen to join us. I immediately went for her! She had a cold this time though, but he offered to step in himself, also being a model. The timing was right, and he blended very well.
For the group poses I wanted it to be simpler than in the past when we did quite a few quick poses; there were just 2 half hour poses and one hour pose. I wanted to orchestrate them as well so that everyone had an idea what they would be doing in advance. There was a pose inspired by a Poussin painting – ‘A Dance to the Music of Time’, with several figures dancing in a chain, and a couple of reclining figures, basically to create levels and leave a couple of models with well rested legs and feet for the pose immediately following. This was a scene of a king and queen addressing their court (the artists) and the other figures holding office on the bench or floor, balancing the space. After the break, this group constructed a more sculptural pose, a sort of pyramid of models. Two stood back to back on the bench, with two more sitting at their feet, and the remaining lying or leaning on the ground close by.
My sister kindly stepped in to help set up the pose for my parents. It was thought that Mum would fare best lying down as she would have been sitting for the journey in the car. She has advanced MS and cannot move from the neck downwards. This gives her an immediate headstart for holding a pose, but she must consider like anyone, what she can hold for the duration. My Father sat by her, and his violin was in the picture. Playing the fiddle is very much a part of him.
We invited Gil Limor to take photographs of models, as well as with some art works. He had been with us last year in Telegraph Hill, and I had a feeling this occasion would be too good to miss photographically. He took some superb shots; all the pictures in this post are his, and we await approval for many more.
More of the artwork from the evening can be seen on our Facebook page
With thanks to all the models, artists and fellow organisers for a spectacular evening! My parents have been overjoyed with the experience, and their friends have loved seeing the pictures too.