Calling Women of All Ages, for WOW @Southbank Centre

We are very happily returning to the Women of the World Festival for our 4th year there, on Saturday 12th March at 3:45pm. This year we are bringing exciting new elements to the event, by including parts of my performance project, Girl in Suitcase.

A theatrical ensemble of professional models will lead a chorus of women, young and old, through the inspirational Ages of Woman. You are invited to try life modelling as part of the chorus, or turn your artistic hand to drawing scenes of the Virgin, Mother, Enchantress and Matriarch. Throughout the session, chorus models within this supportive environment will be invited to share insights from their life modelling, motherhood and menopause experiences. No previous drawing or modelling experience necessary. This is a women-only session where models will work in a group with poses lasting up to 15 minutes. Art materials, robes, a changing area, and a warm comfortable space to pose in are provided.

You will need a WOW Pass to attend the session, though I do have limited free places available for women artists (email me at info.spiritedbodies@gmail.com). Donating a sketch to a model is highly appreciated, in return for their posing.

If you would like to be part of the chorus from the beginning (not as an audience member/artist joining in later) do get in touch. If selected you will not need a pass, and we may be able to cover some transport and assistance costs. I am particularly interested in hearing from older women. The venue is accessible and carers are welcome to join you – we especially welcome disabled women who may otherwise not have such an opportunity. Do spread the word if you think someone may appreciate being included. We are lucky to already have one confirmed chorus member who is 65, and completely paralysed. She has modelled with us several times and become something of a star at Spirited Bodies due to her incredibly powerful testimony given in recorded interviews. Another star who we hope to have joining us again is a model who is in her 80s and has had a mastectomy. Read transcripts of live interviews we made with models at our first WOW event in 2013, here – Part 1, and here – Part 2.

We will be in the Blue Room, which is on the Spirit Level of the Royal Festival Hall building, and the session lasts approximately 1 hour and a half.

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Women posing together at Tanner Street, December 2015

There will be a warm up Women’s Life Modelling session a week before as part of The Telegraph Hill Festival, on Saturday 5th March, from 2:30pm – 4:30pm, in the Craft Room at Telegraph Hill Centre. This will be much smaller, and a straight forward life modelling and drawing workshop. You may book online or just turn up; there is a small charge but if money is tight, don’t let that stop you – get in touch, we may be able to work something out.

If you are concerned about menstruating whilst posing, well this is natural especially if you are new to life modelling. You are welcome to wear knickers, a tampon or mooncup, or even to bleed free. My previous blog post covers this subject somewhat; we all experience this differently.

Women posing at Bargehouse in November 2015;

There will also be a mixed life modelling workshop as part of The Telegraph Hill Festival, on Thursday 10th March, 7:30pm – 9:30pm, also in the Craft Room. This is hosted by Frances Felgate as it is part of her regular life drawing group session. This is free to attend as it is a taster session for the festival.

 

 

Taking the Men out of Menstruation; Return to Women Only at WOW

When I bleed the artists Love me more.

They sense my edge more clearly and it pleases them in their aim to capture me, define me. Even if the power of the Mystery is actually stronger, their overall grasp of my Being is deeper, more profound at that time, because I radiate so vibrantly.

Other times perhaps I’m a bit blurry, but day 1 of my cycle, I’m as crisp as an iceberg, as hot as a volcano, and I melt and pour all over their page. During Menstruation, the artists compliment me more, rebook me more, and generally become more fascinated with me. I have observed this over 8 years of primarily making a living from being a life model.

Sometimes I can smell myself, maybe a little blood has rubbed onto my thigh. Can they smell me too? I’ve heard of artists taking offence at male models getting hard or just dribbling! But female models bleeding; I think they are simply grateful I turn up at all. Lots of female models won’t pose at that time, but I do and I know I excel then. I don’t care if my mooncup overflows and artists get a sight of my rich blood flowing down my leg. In fact I like that they see the whole deal uncovered. It doesn’t happen often as to pose without mooncup or tampon would be extreme, blood necessarily instantly gushing. Only a very feminist life drawing group might go for that, but I haven’t found such yet. To be honest, I haven’t asked. This post my first overt foray into the grit of menstrual posing.

I love my periods and decided to celebrate them with my girlfriends in a red tent group every new moon. The female body and our connection to the natural world and the universe is incredible. I hardly get PMT; at worst it tells me what I need to remove from my life. At best it makes me a lot more badass. Sometimes I want a lot more Me time. I’m less malleable.

I used to experience it more painfully when I was younger, in my early 20s, but I think becoming a life model improved my relationship with my body. I can use the poses like yoga to stretch parts of me that need releasing, sending endorphins on a regular route round my nervous system keeping me in check.

Every day I go to work is a celebration of my body.

Also over the years I have attracted partners who respond more positvely on all levels to my form; less jealousy, greater acceptance and gratitude. Naturally this is a mirror of myself.

PMT may be very individual, but I think many of us can work through it, unblocking its potentially negative hold on us. I believe that it is a cultural construct (and very powerful at that), but it can be undone. That involves unlocking the burdens that have been placed on us by others and ourselves, and figuring out what we actually want for ourselves. In some cultures and in some cases, that may be nigh impossible, but here in the post-Industrial West where the traditional family unit long disintegrated for many of us, reconsidering the life of womankind must assume prominence. We are ripe for it.

Men & Spirited Bodies

Some men are sneaky fuckers. They know how to behave in front of me so I’ll think they are kosher. Then they act like a dick with the female models. They don’t realise some of the women are my friends, so I know all about their idiot tricks.

I’m left with a choice.

a) Don’t bother with men any more.

b) Only invite men to model who I really know and trust. (Male artists very rarely a problem).

c) Get funding as dealing with idiot men is very consuming and one ought to be paid to bother. It would be a great shame to miss all the lovely men out there who may benefit and not cause any problems. But dealing with men in this game involves many idiots.

d) Make the issue clearer at events with announcements at the start outlining the rules.

What can happen when the wrong men pose at Spirited Bodies

Staying still in close proximity to several nude (desirable) women – they get carried away in male fantasy of what this long awaited opportunity means. They have been conditioned to think that because these women are happily naked with them, they may be sexually available. Perhaps they have never been naked with a woman before, never had sex or a girlfriend. There’s a lot of potential issues rumbling around the studio. Not just about the body, not just about sex, but concerning the entire Patriarchal corruption of the male/female relationship.

One more thing about the Blood

That bit at the end of the period or the beginning or even somewhere in the middle on an unpredictable one – where there’s not enough blood to warrant an insertion (tampon/mooncup). Fuck it. I’m just going to bleed a little, smell a tad, because that for me is going with the flow.

Spirited Bodies at Southbank

On Saturday 7th March we return to the Women of the World festival at Southbank Centre. We will be in the Blue Room on the Spirit (ground) Level, from 5 – 7pm. This is a Women only event, for women wanting to model, draw or witness. Interviews with some of the women modelling will be played while they pose (sound recording). Get in touch (info.spiritedbodies@gmail.com) if you would like to book a place to model, draw, or even be interviewed. Limited places. If you get a day pass or a weekend ticket to the festival you can also come. There will be guidance on how to pose if you are new, and this is a very supportive environment if you are nervous. If I have time I will schedule a smaller workshop for women a week or so before the event to warm up for it.

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These pictures are of myself and Hope Deeney posing at Toynbee Art Club, December 2014

Early morning Excitement

I cannot sleep! The excitement is too much. Now I know these sessions are coming to an end, they excite me So much! Every session should be like the last one ever. Like I usually email the models a few days before the event to brief them, get them in the mood. This time I did not. Too routine. And I know. I know that the ones who want to come will be there. They will contact me if they are unsure. Then there was one I was unsure about, who doesn’t have internet, she might not have realised this was coming to an end, and I thought she probably doesn’t have money, which might stop her. But I wanted her there! She was the reason I set up the session that is tonight in Hoxton which she cannot afford to go to. I had gotten to know her via lengthy phone calls from a while back when she was gathering courage. So I called her and told her to come along, regardless of money, just be there because it will be so much easier and more rewarding than you imagine. All the barriers you build up in your mind, they are unfounded, unreal. You just need a chance to move past them, move into a new space where you reach up and out and let yourself speak through your body, tell your story that you are living today, and feel the joy of self acceptance. This comes first, and then the warm appreciation of others. Oh the liberation! It can make you high and take you far as you open your wings and take off for a while. Then you must keep learning to fly and stay flying.

Quick poses
Quick poses

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image-6This pose was a bit like a cat fight; Natansky wanted some drama to kick things off, so she and Louise began in this way to warm everyone up, as they have both posed several times before.

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I encourage models to make poses on different levels; these were closed poses, the body folding in rather than opening up
I encourage models to make poses on different levels; these were closed poses, the body folding in rather than opening up

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Negative spaces - the shapes where the body is not - are used by artists to create the form of the figure within
Negative spaces – the shapes where the body is not – are used by artists to create the form of the figure within
Figures overlayed to produce something unfamiliar
Figures overlayed to produce something unfamiliar

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'When I wake up'
‘When I wake up’
dynamic poses abounded this evening
dynamic poses abounded this evening
Mike Flight caught the tension of 'The Storm'
Mike Flight caught the tension of ‘The Storm’
this was an important announcement
this was an important announcement
Natansky's drawings
Natansky’s drawings

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A scene is enacted before us

the 'play within a play' from another angle
the ‘play within a play’ from another angle

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Beautiful postures
Beautiful postures

Quite randomly I picked from 95 photographs of the artwork sent to me by Santosh; I could not see them all at once, and did not open them all. There will be more, but for one tired night that is enough. Thank you to all who made this last Holborn workshop flow with magic. Now East to Hoxton for feminine fun and womanly wonder.

LaDawn writes; The Taught Becomes the Teacher

It is one of the oldest traditions of mankind.   The ignorant are taught by the more experienced, the more learned.

A mother teaches her son to dance and a daughter how to be a wife and mother. A father teaches his daughter to change a flat tyre and a son to be a husband and father.  I learned to model by listening and learning from other models then I learned to teach modelling by watching others teach.

I observed the individuals’ natural instincts gently guiding and supporting men and women wishing to experience the adrenaline rush and confidence boost that life modelling can provide. I asked them to sit, stand, lay down.  I asked them to hide in a bomb shelter and launch a protest.  I watched their fear and insecurity melt away.

There is that first moment when you bare your naked body, exposing much more than your physical self.  You are convinced that everyone is staring at all your perceived imperfections.  But in life modelling, those “imperfections” are the interesting bits that attract and confound an artist.

 If, as at Spirited Bodies events, there are many more than just one model, the truth is fewer people than you imagine are in fact staring at you at all.  The other models are more wrapped up in themselves than you and the artists may be looking behind you, next to you, through you, or just at your elbow wondering if they are up to the challenge of foreshortening what has been presented to them.

Rarely does an artist look at you in your entirety, preferring to capture first your shape and then your composite parts, each of which are beautiful in their own exquisite uniqueness.  They are aiming at shapes, angles, corners, shading and the relationship between all of those shapes.  All those glorious shapes and their relationship to each other.

No two individuals ever look the same nude.  Clothes hide so much of our individuality.

No two artists ever see a model in the same way.  Their vision, paper, materials, colours, and position will create a different work of art every time they craft.

And then we learn.  We learn how differently others see us from how we see ourselves.  We learn there is joy in that learning. And in that learning there is magic.  Spirited Body magic.

This post is illustrated with pictures made by artists who attended the workshop at Holborn on Wednesday October 2nd, which the text also refers to.

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Find Your Divine Feminine with Spirited Bodies at Sh!

Ever wondered what it’s like to model for artists? Spirited Bodies offer a unique way to reconnect with your body, discovering appreciation within and without, by striking poses for artists. Led by professional female life models, the quiet space afforded by art modelling is unveiled and opened up to newcomers.

Founded in October 2010, Spirited Bodies like Sh! has always been a female run organisation, and in the beginning only invited women to try life modelling. Now men have an opportunity too as many events are mixed, but it is important to keep creating women-only environments to explore our relationship with our bodies, and each other through art.

At events groups of people model together nude, many for the first time, guided by Spirited Bodies. There is training available at workshops, and women only sessions always nurture a particularly supportive space.

On Thursday October 3rd women are invited to meet and chat with Spirited Bodies team members in the Hoxton Sh! store, from 6 – 8pm downstairs. Morimda, Thelma & Esther will be there to answer your questions and talk about the etiquette of being nude for art in a clothed environment, what it’s like to stay still for half an hour plus, and why the liberation of baring all and posing can offer a new level of sensuality. Everything you wanted to know about life modelling but were afraid to ask!

Esther & Thelma talking in the shop space
Esther & Thelma talking in the shop space

On Thursday November 7th, the Spirited Bodies team will be back – this time to hold a workshop for women only, in modelling, though not fully nude. As the shop licence will not allow nudity, women are invited to pose wearing clothes they feel sexy in. This could be a corset and stockings, a negligee, bikini or sari; whatever turns you on as long as nipples and bits are covered. Women are also invited to come and draw or paint the models in the workshop – whether experienced artists or relative beginners, all are welcome to pick up some charcoal and lose oneself in the moment of capturing the female form. Drawing materials are provided; of course you may bring your own if you prefer.

In the basement at Sh!
In the basement at Sh!

People come to model with Spirited Bodies for a great number of reasons, from rediscovering and celebrating their body post illness/divorce to overcoming eating disorders or wanting to be part of the process of creating art. They also come from all backgrounds, have been aged 17 – 82, are all sizes, colours and shapes. Spirited Bodies can help you find poses that bring out the best in you, whilst taking into consideration any physical limitations/disability.

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Both sessions at Sh! fall on Happy Hour so an ideal time to make the most of that, perhaps buy an outfit to pose in! Also both occasions are in the basement of the store which we regret is not accessible for wheelchair. If you are unable to get downstairs but want to join in on October 3rd, let us or the store know and we can arrange to be upstairs; for November 7th however we cannot change floor. Spirited Bodies do have other events and workshops however which are accessible so please get in touch if that applies.

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The women-only life modelling workshop on Thursday November 7th is from 6:30 – 8:30pm, with poses from 1 – 20 minutes led by Esther and the team, with guidance on posing throughout. Tickets cost £20 and may be booked here.

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Esther posing with props
Esther posing with props
Thelma being playful
Thelma being playful
Morimda
Morimda
A feminine space for women only
A feminine space for women only

As well as these special evenings at Sh! Spirited Bodies artwork will be decorating

the walls of the Hoxton store throughout the month of November. If you have drawn

or painted at a Spirited Bodies event and produced artwork there that you are proud

of, get in touch to submit it.