Morimda conceived of this project of Spirited Bodies and first initiated it as part of a course with Landmark. The idea was a community project where she found interested and appropriate people or leaders from the communities of life drawing and life modeling to help her. Having modeled for 15 years she had a good idea where to find these people. Life modeling can be a very isolating occupation, with a great deal of silence involved, and one does not always come into contact with other models. There are some venues like art schools (of the traditional variety which concentrate almost solely on life drawing) where one may regularly find several models. The other obvious place is The Mall Galleries, and this is where we would meet most often. It was this venue which became the focal point of our first event.
Artists at The Mall meet every week usually on a Friday evening, and there is quite a professional feel about the place. There is also the buzz of being Friday evening right in the centre of London. Of all the jobs we do, it perhaps has the strongest element of performance about it. In a large gallery, 4 models each occupy their own section, generally raised on a platform surrounded by keen artists at a little distance. When 6 o’clock arrives everyone is ready and the model, probably already disrobed, takes a pose for 15, 30 minutes or an hour, and silence sweeps the hall except for the hurried sound of charcoal scratching paper or brushes clinking on a jar.
Whilst posing the model may take in the artworks currently exhibiting around them, or catch a glimpse of the works in progress, or else turn inwards and meditate.
This seemed the ideal venue for the launch of Spirited Bodies, and we all have a good relationship with the organiser there, Simon. It was agreed that for one evening we would take over part of the gallery and invite new women to try what we do, in a group.
Esther has a background in theatre, particularly physical, as well as writing, and wanted to take on the role of coordinating the new models; communicating with them and generally preparing them.
Lucy has a professional background in PR, media and hi-tech companies, so her expertise was very useful for considering strategy.
Morimda has been an artist herself and has a great passion for the creation of art. She wants to expand into business more now, so this was a good tool for her to gain experience, even if no money-making was happening yet.
After the first event, a natural period of consolidation occurs, and it takes time for us each to realise how and if we want to take any of this further. We enjoyed it, but it does take some time and energy of course, and with no obvious means of income to follow… it becomes a labour of love so one must not have too many other compelling priorities. However, speaking to Simon, it is apparent that while the artists loved the occasion, its novelty was key – their routine of 4 individual models per evening has been broken but once before since the 1930s!! So there is no rush for another event, though there certainly is a demand. It is more important to learn from the last occasion, and make it even better, at the right time. Then it doesn’t matter if it makes no money – what matters is that we all gain valuable experience and make lots of people happy.