A recent quote from artist Peter B Lloyd who took a turn at modelling:
“For me, it was a positive experience – my fears beforehand were about my ability to keep the poses – wilting muscles, pins and needles, falling asleep, back pain … In fact I experienced no such physiological problems at all, and the challenges were the more serious ones of presenting a pose that is interesting for an artist to draw, and to connect appropriately in a sense of dramatic tableau with the other models. So, on that level, it was an interesting exercise, and one helpful in deepening my own perception and sensibility as an artist. Beyond that, there is the experiential dimension of being naked in fairly intimate configurations with other human beings but without the usual concomitant social and sexual connection. For example, I don’t think I have ever gazed continuously at a lover’s breasts for twenty minutes. Yet, because of the way the pose came together, here I was standing naked and my gaze resting lightly on the body of a complete stranger whom I may never meet again. Fascinating! as Dr Spock would say. Without wishing to sound pretentious, there seems to be a spiritual aspect to this: the etiquette and structure of the posing process makes it almost a ritual. It was as if we had come together to honour and even worship the beauty and vulnerability of the human body!”
Here are some links to posts on this blog or others written by people who have modelled for Spirited Bodies about how it affected them:
Model at 2013 workshop describes meeting his challenge of modelling nude – http://shackletonfoundation.org/20130911/matthew-beardmore-gray-faces-his-antarctic-modelling-for-life-drawing-classes-picture-included/
Model from a recent workshop speaks of long journey to body acceptance:
Models at Women of the World:
An ad hoc participant at Women of the World festival:
Encouraging words by a model from the BAC February event:
A new model speaks to me about transformation and life modelling in a few parts:
life modelling advice from a man who recently took part:
Comments from a middle-aged female model earlier in 2012:
Feedback from Charlie who modelled for the 1st time & took photos at Telegraph Hill:
Comments expressing the joy of participating earlier in 2012:
A bold experiment in challenging issues through Spirited Bodies:
A middle-aged male model’s comments:
A young female model’s words:
A young woman recalls the joy of facing issues through life modelling:
A young female model-to-be speaks in advance about anticipating the experience:
A gay guy speaks honestly about the pressures on men to look a certain way and how life modelling helps:
A young female model reflects on accepting herself more through life modelling:
Various models’ comments:
Our Hesketh Hubbard artists have shared some of their thoughts with us about being challenged by Spirited Bodies’ multiple models:
“New models create a special atmosphere.”
“Groups force new requirements such as depth, separating, colour, and relationships of shapes.”
“It was an interesting experiment and I tend to learn from experiments.”
“The interaction of the models enabled me to draw scenes and capture emotions.”
“Having more than one figure creates a more abstract composition.”
“It forces me to work harder, think quicker, draw more adventurously. I like the diverse range of model age and shape.”
What the Spirited Bodies 2 Models said:
Julia: It was easier than I expected — just tune into what one is inwardly thinking but unlike being an usher with the added blessing of not having to keep a part alert in case — so very internal. I liked that. I loved talking to the professional models and they made the experience easier just by showing how they stood — it made it easier to be a bit bold. I was horrified by my drawing but now I have it home i feel quite fond of it.
A listening experience. The room full of intent concentration but a kind of examining, thoughtful concentration — the artists scratching and looking carefully to get proportion — and working quickly so no time for reflecting or drawing back — just executing and you waiting — gave me an insight into drawing which I liked. When at the Cult of Art for its own sake exhibit which was mostly the pre-Raphaelites — I found myself looking with a new sympathy at the women in the painting — the artist trying to represent only their pure beauty and me wondering how they held the pose.
When I arrived and realised that what I thought was a cafe full of people was in fact where we would be and that there were 100 artists so not just a handful… If you had said 100 then I would not have ventured to try. As it was having so many artists made it easier as they became a blur of scratching pencils — must be the way an actor feels with an audience. Just one person or two in the audience is quite different than a 100. A lot of women among the artists — and one elderly gentlemen. and I thought an interesting mix of probably retired people.
SB: Has anyone you’ve told judged you negatively for participating?
Julia: Some of them go oh with a tad something in the voice. It does not matter.
Veronika (& Ash): Taking part in Spirited Bodies has brought me and my boyfriend together in a new way. It’s a strong experience to share with someone and we now feel connected in a way we wasn’t before. We were both really comfortable posing together and that has brought a new awareness into our relationship. It was also a ‘something I have never done before’ and sharing the experience of a ‘first time’ has a value of it’s own.
Alessandra: I loved it! I think everybody did!! Before doing it I thought it wouldn’t feel natural to be naked in front of clothed people (I’m used to sunbathing naked), but it did! I think it’s because of the purpose of the event. Nice.
I enjoyed meeting all these fantastic and daring women.
Starchild: It was easier than I expected it to be. I originally felt that I would be uncomfortable with lots of gazing eyes at me, however what I found was that I was a shape with different angles to be drawn and that this therefore made me feel more at ease. I was around other nude models and this normalised being nude for me, it was reassuring that I was not the only one that was nude. What I really appreciated was meeting with Esther before hand, being briefed and feeling like I could leave to go to the tiolet at any time really helped me to feel that if needed to leave a pose it wasn’t the end of the world.
SB: What (if anything) did you enjoy about the experience? It was the chance to feel totally free with my naked body, and the unique experience of seeing myself through so many artists eyes. I enjoyed the positive encouragement from Lucy, Rebecca, Esther and Morimda, their smiling at me throughout the poses reassured me that I was doing well and here to enjoy myself! Getting naked is something I have wanted to do for some time. The experience represents for me a departure from past long held feelings of shame and guilt attached to my body and sexuality, to a feeling of joy, freedom, creativity and expression. I would love to do more!!!
We asked the women who tried life modelling for the first time (19/11/10) how they felt afterwards. Here’s some things they said:
“I really enjoyed it – it was the relationship between the models and the artists – and the comfortable feeling between the models as well.
I enjoyed feeling unselfconscious about my body, and I enjoyed the challenge of staying still – which was easier at some times than at others! I enjoyed having such attention not for something that I had done or said, but simply to help the artists to do what they love doing; there was every chance of succeeding in the task just by existing rather than having to outwit someone else; I loved the lack of competition but the success of us all as a group.
I didn’t really think about the poses much beforehand, but when you were explaining it to us, I did worry a bit about whether I’d be able to cope – not only in holding the poses but also in thinking of how to pose – whether I could provide a pose that was interesting to the artists; they did actually say that we would have been interesting if we’d stood just upright and rigid – but undoubtedly there would be poses that were more interesting than others. The artists were very kind and appreciative!
I liked to see the pictures people had done of me, but I was also interested in seeing the pics of other models. The standard of work seemed to be extremely high.
It was thoroughly enjoyable and felt like a treat – so when everyone applauded us and the artsists were really grateful, it was such a surprise!” Laura Yeates
“Modelling was much more physically challenging than I expected it to be. Poses which I thought would be quite easy to hold for some time turned out to be very tricky, as pressure points which weren’t immediately obvious became clear, limbs went numb, and horrific pins and needles developed. My karate training helped me deal with the pain, but when finding poses I focused on my understanding of composition (learnt from a strong interest in art and a photography hobby), in particular triangular shapes and negative space; poses based on karate are too physically challenging. Seeing the sketches of me was definitely my favourite part; it was interesting to see my body through another person’s eyes, and made me realise that though my body isn’t perfect, it’s still beautiful. Many young women have problems centred around their body image, including myself, and modelling has – I feel – helped me with that. I wouldn’t say I discovered a new passion, but I definitely found a lucrative (I can make 3 times as much modelling as waitressing) and flexible part time job that provides a physical challenge and has collateral benefits for my self esteem.” Tansy
“I really just enjoyed being on the other side… artists not necessarily looking at it as a body but a combination of shapes and lines and shading/tinting.
I loved focusing on a particular artist and his/her actions and facial expressions while they were drawing… plus it helped to have something to concentrate on. Being in a group of women felt very safe and it was very beautiful to see everyone transforming from nervous and shy to empowered.
At the beginning it was both physically and mentally challenging – I just had to let go of the fact that my body is bigger right now than it has been… something that I feel pretty self conscious about – and just fully relax into the pose instead of constantly judging the way you look… 5 minutes into the first pose I felt fine… it was just the initial plunge. Luckily I have done some meditation so that really helped with focus and being able to still myself.
It’s a pretty incredible feeling to walk around and see yourself represented in so many different ways. It was interesting to see what certain people focus on… and how different body expressions are displayed. All the artists were really lovely.
It was a lovely experience. A beautiful group of women and I think that everyone did their best to make us feel comfortable and confident going in there. I never thought that I would have been able to stand in front of 50 people naked… but now it’s like this huge check mark in life… and it feels wonderful. I would definitely be interested in looking into more modelling in the future… especially in a group setting… it felt like a modern version of ‘The Bathers‘!” Katrina Jurgens
“It was liberating to be nude in front of people, as well as observing my thoughts during the modelling and accepting myself as I was and my body as I was. It was nice to be able to share the experience with other women specially older women who were in there as naturally as I was. I would have felt very insecure to add to my insecurities to have only young slim women in the group.” Romina Naito
“I really enjoyed the Spirited Bodies event. It was lovely meeting all the women. I was glad there was a woman my own age modelling.
The reason I decided to take part in the event is that as a middle aged unmarried woman without a family I am invisible! In Darwinian terms I have no worth as I am past it! I can walk down a street and no one notices. In a group of women I have nothing to say as I don’t have children or grandchildren. One of the nicest things about the Spirited Bodies event is the women talk about the event and not their kids! To be drawn by a group of artists was my way of giving myself value, to be noticed. It was a way of overcoming the bad body image I have developed since menopause… Also to prove to myself that I could pose naked. To boost my self worth and to motivate myself in taking care of my body – seeing it as an instrument which houses me as a person.
I enjoyed talking to the other women. Women tend to be bombarded with images of what their bodies should be like. I enjoyed seeing that women’s bodies are beautiful no matter what shape or size they are. The posing was liberating and peaceful. Being still and quiet gave one space to think and breathe.
It is not as difficult as I expected. But I don’t think I challenged myself with difficult poses as it was my first time.” Rain
“By the last pose I was relaxed about my nudity! I did a bold standing pose as prompted by you guys, having realised that lying down can be less comfortable.
I found the half hour poses quite difficult, and getting into poses – you think you’re comfy, but you’re not.
I didn’t find it relaxing, I didn’t master it.
It was a bit like performing (theatre) for the attention.
Seeing the pictures afterwards reminds me of my bravery, I feel proud of myself. I see myself, and it’s neither flattering, nor awful. Just as I am.
Before doing this I really didn’t want to. I hated the idea of showing my body, I’m not happy about the way I look. I only took part as a favour to a friend! When it actually happened it was fun, it went quickly, and it was nice to be in a group. Lovely women, we got to bond a bit, especially in the pub.
A week later I tried another evening of life modelling, after initially thinking I’d hate doing it. I had gained confidence.” Szilvi Keffert