Performing Stillness & the Wild Women of Wandsworth

Missing performing yet engrossed in all things Spirited Bodies I find myself pondering a more performative event though still with various folks modelling. Ursula who modelled at the last 2 SB sessions is a performance poet and wanted to combine her talent with the SB format. Maybe I am just too precious about what we do but I feel she would not be the only one with designs on an additional role. I suggested she gets in touch with Sarah Small who does provide a real opportunity for nude model/performers in an amazing context. Small’s productions are grand, operatic and extend to unusual movement artists. They are not for life drawing, nor for the same purpose (as us) of giving a possibility to those who had not considered it or find it a milestone in terms of confidence.

It would require much work, and satisfy another part of me, to choreograph a nude performance with some voice and movement, still with a chance to be drawn and also to be watched by another audience. A mixture as we already are of totally new models and the more experienced, many of whom have performance skills to offer.

The inspiring Tableau Vivant of Sarah Small:

May 2011 – 120 Model Tableau Vivant – Skylight One Hanson from The Delirium Constructions on Vimeo.

Back to the present time and Lucy and I have been engaging in the gate crashing of several Wandsworth based women’s meetings and what a spectrum. From the Women of Wandsworth Enterprise Launch Lunch on the Kambala Estate which is mainly for single Mums who so frustrated with the difficulties of finding work have decided to create a networking group to help them start their own businesses, to the well to do ladies of the Women’s Institute situated in the posher parts of Wimbledon and Putney. An eye-opener indeed. For someone who runs a community project I almost felt inadequate as I listened to the wide range of skills and experience the Wandsworth Mums have between them. They spanned many backgrounds from accounting, finance, community cohesion, teaching, campaign groups and much more, and the common refrain was that having children had thrown them off course. It was a privilege to attend their 1st Enterprise meeting and Lucy has been invited to demonstrate a working business plan at the next. They have already won awards (as their home organisation Women of Wandsworth) for all their community operations – saving libraries, playgrounds, and generally helping each other out. We of course hope some of them will model!

At the W.I. I felt a bit in the way, though I imagine every district has its own flavour (there’s more to come) and to actually be booked as a speaker needs months of advance procedures.

Here are some lovely pictures from the Enterprise Launch with WoW Mums (NB we haven’t found the Wild Women of Wandsworth yet but I think they may be ranging about on Wandsworth Common perhaps to be seen on a full moon night. At least I am hoping).

2 guys present: speaker from Job Centre Plus – Ray Ward, and a male WoW supporter
nothing exists without a photo these days!

Local Meetings & Workshop for Women

Three Standing Figures by Henry Moore (1947–49...
Three Standing Figures by Henry Moore (1947–49) erected at Battersea Park in London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nic Green's Trilogy

Cover of "Calendar Girls"
Cover of Calendar Girls

Finding the Women of Wandsworth Mums accidentally as I dropped into Rollo Business Centre on the Doddington & Rollo Estate near Battersea Park felt like a sizeable piece of the jigsaw fell into place.

Some of the WoW Mums took part in Nic Green’s performance art piece involving 50 women dancing naked, 2 years ago at BAC – where our next event takes place. So I feel hopeful that our artistic nude opportunity may appeal.

Also on the trail of Wandsworth women I discovered that Southside Players, a local amateur dramatics group are due to perform Calendar Girls shortly after our event, nearby in Balham. The script is about to be released for hire for just a year and has subsequently been snapped up by 250 am-dram companies.

I am thinking of doing a naked workshop for women focussing on feeling empowered in the nude. Returning to a women only format feels apt whatever the men say. Too many women are put off by the presence of men and there needs to be a space to not be distracted by them.

I would like to do a mixed workshop as well, with a slightly different emphasis being on posing as a group and the art of life modelling. It’s still about being empowered in the nude, however – it doesn’t matter how many people point out that men have body issues too. We would need more funding to reach more of the guys with really major body issues. It’s more immediately possible for us to connect with the women. In any case we are an organic entity, ever shifting with inputs from different people and at the right time when we may reach those men and women who may benefit most from us, we will surely have a man on the team equipped for that episode.

Lucy has been active on her local forum – StreetLife – and is recruiting from within since she is a Wandsworth resident, among several of her networks. She will organise a meeting soon for potential participants to meet us and ask questions etc.

Images were taken by Lucy at the Hesketh Hubbard exhibition last week.


Part 3: A Woman in Transition

Liz painted by artist Stan Blatton in her 1st life modelling job after Spirited Bodies

It took Morimda years to have the courage to tell people what she did as a life model. Liz does not have that burden but in her life she will not tell many about this new side of her. This information is restricted to the few who are from that art world of like minded people. Liz has a cover like a mask – her normal job which is what the rest of the world may know about her.

For 20 years she was unhappy in her job and did not address the fact that artistic and sporty sides to her were not being fulfilled. She now approaches life modelling as a slightly older woman who is generally less confident about her body, and she experiences a shift as she accepts her own nudity.

Liz was pleased to find other professionals (as in not life models) taking part in Spirited Bodies. It suggested she may be with others experiencing something similar; the ennui of working life and the duality of clashing worlds. Her drama teacher has told her she is too controlled, so partly through life modelling she aims to be freer.

She also thinks that as she gets older she will become more interested in nude modelling, to face the challenge of continuing to love herself. Now that she has found this joy that makes her feel special, she does not want it to end. She says there is a need for more images of both naked and clothed older women to emerge and proliferate.

In her drama class she has met lots of people her age with professions who like her, crave change to something more spiritual in their lives. Spirited Bodies she says, is a bit like acting, as when life modelling/acting, the social mask is off. You must be yourself and that has a big appeal.

The shift in Liz started to happen a few years ago when living in another country from her best friend – her sister – she realised she was unhappy with her job, and her sister was there to advise her. A spiritual teacher was visiting her home town and giving classes to her sister. Each week on the phone information was shared.

She noticed that her ‘friends’ judged people by where in London they lived, and when she told them she was doing an acting course it was a huge shock for them and they had no encouragement for her. She says another course would have been acceptable in gardening or sewing for example, but acting was considered a waste of time as it ‘should’ be something pursued when younger. At her age people judged she ought to have settled more. Instead she is still curious to explore.

“My career is about knowing myself and being happy”, she told bewildered former friends!

Her drama teacher told the class, “If you came here to learn how to act, you came to the wrong place.” Instead acting is about stripping away the mask.

Liz allowing her bottom to take a prominent position, which always she was ashamed of before

With many thanks to Liz and Morimda

Event Horizon, a call for Women

Where aRE the women?

Make it happen

Be with your self!

A photo by Alex B @ ‘The Drawing Theatre’ 11/2/12, Spirited Bodies

And with others

Find your place

Saturday 28th July in a church not far from Richmond beautiful things will unfold

Join us