Workshopping Stoke Newington

So long South West and we had been due North of the Thames. In Stoke Newington I mooch with my boyfriend and his pooch, and one of our breakfast spots offered an art space underneath. Spirited Bodies’ first date in N16 was Valentines Day and I had attended a talk on legal reform to improve the rights of women. It was part of Eve Ensler’s initiative – One Billion Women Rise to end violence against women. Jude Kelly, artistic director at Southbank Centre was speaking to Yvette Cooper, shadow minister for women and MP Stella Creasy who had both arrived hot from speaking in parliament about the need to push gender equality up the priority list. Violence against women is still too acceptable and needs to be addressed in schools, starting with the curriculum they argued.

I was not much of a Valentines date, rushing to my boyfriend’s then for a south Indian meal he had prepared before racing over to the workshop. Various hitches awaited – the furniture that had to be moved, the security camera to be covered up, the draft from the backdoor of the restaurant, and the heating which was not warm enough. Lucy was at a friend’s memorial service and most of the restaurant staff did not speak English. The space was good though, and regular participants were waiting for me upstairs and ready to help out. A couple of minutes after 7 we were ready for the first pose.

The theme was opposites; expansion & compression with 2 figures, each embodying one of these qualities. Then there was growing and dying, lightness and weight, falling and rescuing. This last match turned out to be 15 minutes of near agony for the models gripped as they were in a tight stretch so I felt more lenient for the next pose. The joy of connecting was the theme so that relaxed and happy expressions were evident. Finally a miniature recreation of Degas’ Young Spartans gave all the models a chance to try a 20 minute pose together. A thoroughly good evening, and as we wound down, the band was warming up in the restaurant above, surrounded by candle lit couples and unusually busy waiters.

Here are some pictures from the workshop;












all i-pad pictures by Peter Mitchell
all i-pad pictures by Peter Mitchell


Young Spartans by Pete Frohlick
Young Spartans by Pete Frohlick
and by Rade
and by Rade



felt tip Spartans by Francis Wardale
felt tip Spartans by Francis Wardale


There are 2 more workshops scheduled at Cafe Most Art on Stoke Newington High Street for this month; Thursdays 21st and 28th, the latter of which will be women only. We explore different types of pose and the theatrical way they may connect with others, whether with the viewer or other models. We look at the practical considerations for holding the body in various states, as well as the aesthetic value of posture. Modelling is an individual practise which must be discovered by each model for her/himself and we are here to facilitate and support.

Published by esther bunting

Performer, artist, writer

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