All the Spirited Nudes, in Edinburgh

FAO Esther: an email arrived from Scotland on 22nd July. All The Young Nudes wondered if I might be about in Edinburgh in August, to hold an event with them for the festival. We hadn’t been thinking of it but it was within the scope of my schedule and I didn’t hesitate to book it in. It had been 3 years since my last trip there, with Lucy and Thelma. We had done 3 events across Glasgow (with ATYN) and Edinburgh (with Edinburgh Drawing School at Marchmont St Giles parish church centre, and at Arts Complex, St Margaret’s House).

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At the end of the evening, Steve and I clearing away. Taken by a model

The event would be held at Studio 24, an alternative nightclub in the heart of the city, and a festival venue. Joanna, director of ATYN, reckoned we could comfortably fit about 10 models in the space. Last time we’d collaborated and I’d put a call out, just 3 models had come forward and all were professional. We had found first-timers for the church gig, but I considered that perhaps ATYN was more daunting at the time, for a newbie. The full-on music and nightclub atmosphere might not suit the more nervous types we were appealing to. It required a certain amount of confidence just to step up to that opportunity in the first place. In addition back then we weren’t so well known, especially in Scotland. It was the first time that such an occasion had been presented and the response was more tentative.

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Models in situ, all ready for their audience

By contrast, this time the people properly groomed by social media no doubt, were ready for us. I was inundated with interest from potential and professional models alike. In the interim years ATYN have expanded and not only operate in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but also with regular weekly sessions in Dundee and Aberdeen. Joanna is furthermore preparing to export her brand of life drawing abroad to beyond the UK and even Europe, such is the popularity and accessibility of her unique set-up.

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All artworks & photos in this post are from the event on 23/08/’16 at Studio 24

It seems in many parts of the UK life drawing (and modelling) have expanded, gone mainstream; so it was lovely to feel the increased appetite and enthusiasm. It in fact felt greater than presently in London where ever more similar opportunities are available and there has possibly been a saturation.

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I quickly signed up 10 models – a good mixture of experienced and not, male and female. ATYN are famous for their music playlists and as I constructed a pose schedule including a couple of (now familiar to the scheme) movement poses, I liaised remotely with the music man. I remembered the wonderful eclecticism of the score last time, and while I wouldn’t attempt to unduly affect Pete’s choices, I was really keen to align the movement poses accordingly. A few days before the gig he sent over his Spotify setlist for our session and I spotted Clark’s Upward Evaporation; a suitably timed and ambient piece that lent itself perfectly to the seeds slowly growing into full bloom pose. Also catching my ear was Oneohtrix Point Never’s Ships Without Meaning, perfect for the models in a circle making a chain of movement pose. Just one moves very slowly at a time, until s/he touches the next, and hence the chain of movement.

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Models as seeds about to grow

Having emailed the models with extensive instructions and notes on what to expect, they were already well briefed and we easily got into our groove during the bonus hour before the event in which to practise. We physically ran through the tableaux and I outlined some practicalities. Despite a few last minute cast changes and at one point having a total of 12 models arranged, when the time actually came, there were as originally planned 10 models including my partner Steve. Steve wasn’t in all the poses particularly the shorter ones, rather helping me to photograph them, but he joined in 4.

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Steve joins in this scene of a Roman bacchanale

After a beautiful day climbing Arthur’s seat and the nearby hills, we arrived early and met Charli who was managing for ATYN, as well as Keira who was also involved. We set up a space against a brightly painted wall of the rectangular space, opposite the bar. There was strong (blinding) lighting directed on the model space, and a separate corner allocated for models’ belongings. The DJ booth was in another corner and Charli was happy to manage the music so that it was quiet when I needed to address models between poses, for the set-up and let the artists know the pose length.

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The first pose

I was really pleased with how smoothly everything ran, all the models working so well together (mostly strangers to each other) and good vibes all round. Here is the pose schedule as it finally flowed on the night (some poses were shorter than planned as the break was longer, and set-up each time had to be factored in too);

5 minutes dynamic pose with all models connecting just minimally
10 minutes models in a circle, chain of movement with one model slowly moving at a time until s/he touches the next
10 minutes models pose as if family or anyone from their lives who may be shocked to see them life modelling walks in (if there is no one to be shocked that’s fine too!)
15 minutes models create gangster poses, think Reservoir Dogs
15 minutes a scene of a Roman bacchanale
15 minutes break
5 minutes slow movement growing from a compact to an expansive pose
10 minutes scene of witches ceremony
25 minutes scene at the beach

 

Here are some more images from the session.

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Caught unexpectedly nude!
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Confident expressions
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Laidback
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Bewitched

And here is a little feedback from one of the models I want to share;

“So glad I got to take part in this and can’t thank you enough for the opportunity! Modelling together for the first time was definitely the best way, I as a new comer to life modelling could get inspiration of others and also connecting with people in such a vunerable setting is inspirational and phenomenal! The moving poses were one of my favourites both the short growing pose and the group connecting and moving with one touch was so unique and inspiring! I really hope to take this experience and use it as inspiration if I ever get another chance to do this again! Thank you again and hope to see you again!” Aimee.

So sweet, makes me feel very warm 🙂

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We look forward to taking Spirited Bodies to Scotland again sometime, as well as to other destinations. With gratitude for this beautiful calling.

Steve will also be documenting the event shortly on his blog, with quite a few more of the superb photos!

Returning to Scotland

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© Tatiana Moressoni, from Spirited Sound, November ’15

We are returning to Scotland as part of the Edinburgh festival, for one evening with All The Young Nudes on Tuesday 23 August, 8pm to 10pm, at the legendary Studio 24.

We invite those who would like to try life modelling but who wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance, as well as seasoned professional models who would enjoy creating group tableaux with us. This is unpaid but we are neither making a profit, nor even covering all expenses. We do this as a one-off because we love it, and want to share that passion in many exciting places.

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by Alex B, with The Drawing Theatre, 2012

Modelling as a group is different to solo, with its own dynamics and challenges. We will be there to offer support and guidance for those new to modelling, and to connect with like-minded professionals. This is a liberating practice with many benefits for all involved.

There are limited places for models so we would ask you to email us well in advance if you are interested, telling us a little about your reasons for wanting to join in. Email Esther at info.spiritedbodies@gmail.com

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© Tatiana Moressoni, from Spirited Sound, November ’15

We were last in Scotland 3 years ago and it was an absolute treat. On that occasion we worked with 3 different groups between Glasgow and Edinburgh over a few days. This is much shorter, as it was ATYN who got in touch to see if we might be about, and it’s all been arranged in the last few days.

ATYN are unique for being ‘life drawing set to music’, and not background either. It’s a bit like being in a nightclub, in fact it was last time in Glasgow, and it will be again this time in Edinburgh. Studio 24 is an alternative music venue that has been around since 1995 – a very special year for me as far as clubbing goes!

Really looking forward to taking Spirited Bodies outside London again, and reconnecting with our Scottish brothers and sisters, especially in this post-referendum madness.

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© Tatiana Moressoni, at Spirited Sound, November 2015

Holborn, Toynbee & getting excited about SB road trip North of the border!

I am totally hyper. I can’t write blog posts any more. I don’t have a shrink any more and the drafts folder is piling up. Chaos.

We Are Going To Scotland!! Soon!!

Groovy All The Young Nudes have invited us to Glasgow. Well we emailed them. They asked if we have a setlist, as in music, because they always do. Lucy who has only just recovered from some sort of plague and wants to get in touch with Scottish press, find more East London artists, learn how to make crowdfunding videos properly, cajol us into completing more funding applications, set up an etsy page for selling postcards, create a proper website so my free-reigning babble is not our most prominent web presence, would like to compile our playlist. To be fair she does have an impressive music collection, and she may be driving us for 7 hours or whatever it is each way in a very crowded car. Good music might save us, we will need several hours of it.

Lat Sunday I modelled at Toynbee Arts Club in Aldgate
Last Sunday I modelled at Toynbee Arts Club in Aldgate
These are pics of the venue where our next big event will be
These are pics of the venue where our next big event will be
on sunday 21st July. I have booked most of the models; there is plenty space for artists
on Sunday 21st July. I have booked most of the models; there is plenty space for artists

On Wednesday this week I discovered there is a role for an MC in life drawing events. It was the audience that swung it, though David Plank who runs Holborn Life Drawing thought I was just being neurotic. Artists have pointed out before how manic I am in the thick of directing; it’s an art I am working on. Clearly so different to being the incredibly calm person doing the poses.

Very nice atmosphere that evening, good location, lovely models. One asian male model with cerebral palsy made a noted entry. Richard (a long time supporter and friend of ours, also a professional model) was stirring things up with the dramatic content. I supplied themes, and he whipped the new models into an exerted response, I mean he puts so much energy into crafting a tension filled pose, the whole space is filled with a peaking vibe. There was a natural complementary shape making going on – what drama students know as balancing the space, and work very hard to achieve in Viewpoints exercises.

a whodunnit
a whodunnit
in fear of a bear
in fear of a bear

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fractious relationships
fractious relationships

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These are a few of the pictures from Wednesday, for more take a look here. Thanks Santosh

That’s about all I can manage this Friday night just in time for the weekend blog post. Except to say I need to make it more clear that models do pay to pose at workshops and I know that upsets the sensibilities of some professional models. But we are creating an environment for an experience. We remove the pressure of life modelling as a job. We are reassuring. People love it, people who have proper jobs, don’t want to become life models because it would never pay the mortgage, but love having a go, and what we do is different too. It’s a naked drama class with a very special pause button. And there’s so much more I could say, but it’s all on the About page.

Having said that, while we are in Scotland, no one needs pay to pose. Artists will pay at most of our gigs but at Arts Complex it is free unless people want to make a donation (to the venue). That’s because we have been invited by Ragged University in the first place, and from that beginning have set up our own other arrangements. Ragged have a policy of free events, free education for all in the community – in pubs, arts centres, cafes and more. They are continuing the tradition of the Ragged Schools in our time. They are awesome and that’s why we are going to Scotland first (and my boyfriend introduced me to Alex of Ragged when we first met). For all the latest on our Scotland itinerary, see here