The Warmth of Women

I am so glad we decided to make a workshop at Sh! This is a special environment where women may explore their sexuality in a totally welcoming space. It is much more than a specialist sex shop; it has an ethos to reach women where they have not been touched before! It is an intimate space downstairs where we created Spirited Bodies magic within this new setting. Surrounded by dildos, vibrators, whips, paddles and lubricants we eased into poses on the pink oval couch that had a fetish feel. One of our artists was very comfortable directing poses due to her frequenting of fetish clubs; I took full advantage. Not that I am shy, but when you can see someone flowing with inspiration for ideal use of props and the angle of each limb, it is a gift for all to let that unfold. Thelma and I just tweaked some of these poses according to our knowledge of modelling, and making allowances for the newness of these models who want to try a novel experience more in some cases than have a realistic experience of life modelling.

Here are some pictures from this unusual workshop which hopefully we will try some time again.

P1010185

P1010186

P1010187

P1010188

P1010189

P1010198

P1010199

I initiated proceedings with a 6 minute pose; the average pose was 5 minutes
I initiated proceedings with a 6 minute pose; the average pose was 5 minutes

P1010201

I made suggestions to models about levels and relative openness or closedness of the body, as well as direction of limbs, and as well they found their own postures to fit with the other model’s shape.

P1010202

P1010208

P1010204

dynamic and fun
dynamic and fun

P1010206

These fabulous felt-tip pen line drawings are by Lily Lemaire
These cartoonesque felt-tip pen line drawings are by Lily Lemaire

P1010210

P1010211

Most participants came primarily to try modelling, and a couple preferred drawing, but they too had a go at posing. They said that it helped them understand the models’ point of view.

P1010213

Collection of underwear models, or a ridiculous all girl band as one of them observed!
Collection of underwear models, or a ridiculous all girl band as one of them observed!
Colourful finale pose
Colourful finale pose
Artist Khadijah likes to use oil pastels I believe
Artist Khadijah likes to use oil pastels I believe, bringing out tone more than line

P1010217

a pink feather boa connected the models
a pink feather boa connected the models

P1010219

P1010221

The costumed model presents different considerations for the artist; clothes draw attention to other features and shapes which the nude does not.

P1010220

A light touch; it is so warming when participants get into the spirit of friendly posing with each other they have not met before
A light touch; it is so warming when participants get into the spirit of friendly posing with each other they have not met before

I thought afterwards, coming into this shop for a class, these women would not be likely to be phased!

P1010223

P1010224

Pleasing parallel lines and angles
Pleasing parallel lines and angles

P1010226

While life or clothed modelling is not necessarily sexy, it can be. Above all we want to promote women being comfortable and confident in their bodies – sexually and otherwise. Often being at ease with one’s form may enhance sexual confidence, in a truthful way that is not about doing what is expected of us, or what we think we ought to do, but by being ready to sense our own desire and act on it appropriately. Being able to appreciate ourselves allows us to appreciate others more, and be appreciated by others. While the body can be a very sacred place, we easily become disconnected from it in our mentally driven lives. But if we take time to tune into what is going on inside, and learn to move our bodies however we can to enjoy them, we begin to intuit more the language of the body.

As I move from pose to pose, especially but not exclusively the quick (and movement) ones, there is hardly any time in between poses when I am working, to recover the body to its natural equilibrium, to eliminate aches and cramps. My body tells me which limbs to work as I form a new shape; more than the alternation of muscle groups (though that is part of it) its language is subtle and beyond logical. It knows I am performing a sequence, that there is a climax mid-flow of muscular tension when I will pass through a pain barrier and I will surpass artists’ expectations of what I can hold. I push myself because I am like a gymnast aiming for gold, I take my modelling seriously because I love it. It is my gym, my yoga and sometimes my dance. It strengthens my core and warms my very being. It takes me to places of trance, of deep joy and wild amusement I cannot possibly describe to you because it is so in the moment, the way it lights my smile challenging the artists to catch it! Sometimes it is tantra too and it turns me on, and if I were a man I would have to master myself quite heroically not to offend people and risk not being booked and getting a tarnished name. As a woman I can hide it if I want though sometimes my sexuality is discerned – naturally I am being closely observed, and enjoying it. That is even turning me on too; part of a pleasure loop of enjoying myself, being enjoyed by others. But it is not deemed offensive; though it affects me physically this is subtle compared with a man. Instead I am likely to wear a translucent glow and my pheromones reach the artists subliminally (or not). I am sometimes booked because I am sexy, though not in an obvious way, because that is not my style. I mean, it is pleasing to artists consciously or otherwise that I am in tune with my sexuality and I know how to handle it. It makes me confident and that is attractive. It is about my physicality and my nature. I know that life modelling has enhanced this for me. It was always there, a big part of me, being very sexy; but after becoming closeted a few years for social and personal reasons, the liberation afforded by life modelling was strong and so welcome. Now I share that as best I can with others.

Working so closely with my body and my beauty daily, I am acutely in touch with my cycle. I bring different energies at different times to modelling, from the highly charged and emotional, to the light and easy going, to the blatantly desiring, and commanding. Through meditation with energy work (visualising the flow and store of energy within the body) I aim to master better the hormonal drives in me. I have become so aware of my enslavement to a feminine cycle of emotions and desires, that I look to overcome this through deeper analysis, to channel all that powerful energy to put it to best use. Not to move beyond sex, but rather reach a higher source of sexual power, which is ultimately more feminine, unbound by time or undue strain.

I will add that there are many different types of life model and I am just one. Our individuality is the beauty of our game.

One of the women who participated on Thursday evening wrote to us the next morning;

“Thank you for a wonderful evening last night. I thoroughly enjoyed the modelling and the theme was right up my street 🙂 I am absolutely interested in modelling again in the future, I think my preference would be all women groups at least for the first few sessions since I am a newbie! I am not so keen on the drawing side as my skills in drawing are so inadequate!”

Thelma responded, “Thank you 🙂 It was an absolute pleasure and to see you ‘warming up’ to the experience. That is why I like SB – there is an indescribable feeling of fluidity, freedom and togetherness – spirited bodies, like minded embracing ‘the nude’, our nude in a practical, loving, flowing into unconscious way – if that makes sense! I fully understand about the drawing side – when I draw I try and do a ‘small bit’ or part of the pose or just try and get the positions to practice perspective.”

Finally the young woman wrote, “I am exploring and learning so much about myself and the world through my body and its empowering and  incredibly freeing. I have always been very comfortable with my body, but unfortunately have been surrounded by a lot of people who aren’t! That can really limit who you are when trying to be sensitive to other people’s hang ups.

I am delighted to have been in the space of women who love and appreciate their bodies as they are :)”

Beautiful

How to look good not naked ~ the challenge of clothed modelling, & our first exhibition!

An exciting week lies ahead; 2 workshops, and the first week of our exhibition up. I spent part of Friday and Saturday collecting the artwork with Thelma, and then fathoming how to hang it. I am pleased with the result and think we have decorated the Sh! shop very nicely. I am going to give you a peek here, as best I could manage, with the glare of lights in their basement where the pictures are.

Whilst sorting out where and how to hang each image, I was in the space where we will hold our women only session on Thursday (7th November). I got a feel for the possibilities there, chatted to the manageress, and thought about how best to encourage women to pose – with clothes on. We have never had this restriction before (while we have had clothing optional modelling, nudity has always been allowed with us!), but also we have never been in such a feminine space. The manageress said they have never had anything like our workshop in the shop. They offer a number of erotic classes and sessions, from ‘how best to perform fellatio’, to erotic poetry evenings; but we are adding a new dimension.

I checked out some of their underwear items which women might consider posing in, if they fancy treating themselves to something new, and tasty, as well as some of the goods on sale which could make fun props!

Edible bra made of candy beads was not very expensive
Edible bra made of candy beads was not very expensive
Not sure how well these items fit different sizes or adjust, seems to be one size
Not sure how well these items fit different sizes or adjust, seems to be one size
Bare minimum for a burlesque look
Bare minimum for a burlesque look

IMAG1361

Frilly pants for £9 I think
Frilly pants for £9 I think
sequin tassles
sequin tassles
A bit more expensive, 'Pants to Poverty' fairtrade pants are £14 but at least they are ethical
A bit more expensive, ‘Pants to Poverty’ fairtrade pants are £14 but at least they are ethical
And now for some props
And now for some props

When we had our women’s meet and chat evening last month in this space, one of the women who dropped in had a whole lot of questions. In fact she had so much to say that hardly anyone else got a word in, and we realised we would have to manage situations like that better in future. Memorably, in the middle of the woman’s diatribe, Morimda got up and strutted over to the whips. She carefully picked an instrument and struck a dominant pose in the middle of the space, holding the whip with intent. Now she had everyone’s attention and there was quiet. Morimda explained how the model holds the space, and picks poses to engage with her audience of artists.

A lot of the scenarios we create in our workshops, a bit like in a drama class, are centred around notions of status. These props may add an amusing nuance, helping to make status relationships very clear.

Paddles, collars & blindfolds
Paddles, collars & blindfolds

Now for a virtual tour of the Spirited Bodies exhibition!

Seated figure drawing by Chris Francis
Seated figure drawing by Chris Francis
'The Queen of Sheba' by Kate Hardy - a 20 minute pose at our Women of the World women's event in March at Southbank Centre
‘The Queen of Sheba’ by Kate Hardy – a 20 minute pose at our Women of the World women’s event in March at Southbank Centre
A scene from last December's Mortlake event by Mike Flight
A scene from last December’s Mortlake event by Mike Flight
A standing nude in water colour by Chris Francis
A standing nude in water colour by Chris Francis
3 of Mike Flight's paintings are on the top shelf
3 of Mike Flight’s paintings are on the top shelf
more Mike above a pink mirror
more Mike above a pink mirror
One of Jane Barton's paintings, from Battersea Arts Centre in October 2012
One of Jane Barton’s paintings, from Battersea Arts Centre in October 2012
Simon Whittle's watercolour and pencil picture from our event at The Mall Galleries this August
Simon Whittle’s watercolour and pencil picture from our event at The Mall Galleries this August
Jane's other painting of female nudes has been a big favourite, also from BAC October '12
Jane’s other painting of female nudes has been a big favourite, also from BAC October ’12
One of Lily Lemaire's drawings and a couple of Mike's smaller pictures
One of Lily Lemaire’s drawings and a couple of Mike’s smaller pictures
Charles Patey's 'Stanza' from Mortlake last December, features life model Isobel, in charcoal
Charles Patey’s ‘Stanza’ from Mortlake last December, features life model Isobel, in charcoal
'Opposing Pair' by Chris Francis on the right, and a reclining female nude by Lily Lemaire on the left.
‘Opposing Pair’ by Chris Francis on the right, and a reclining female nude by Lily Lemaire on the left.

Lily is one of the artists who will be drawing the models on Thursday, and she will give a drawing to each model to keep, a lovely memento we think.

I asked the manageress of Sh! why there have not been any other women’s sex shops opening since this once in the early ’90s. She explained that it is not a commercial venture since this shop is women only for the most part – men must be accompanied by a woman or visit on Tuesday evenings. This excludes  by far the largest market for the sex industry, since men are used to spending on sex. Most women never by sex products for themselves as they have less disposable income and are used to spending more of their income on others, and thinking of their own needs less. While this shop addresses this imbalance, it is a political (feminist) choice rather than capitalising on a gap in the market. They are considering starting some classes for men in future which teach them about how to please women. I think there is a growing interest in this area if Orgasmic Meditation is anything to go on.

I am really pleased to have our first show here, and hope you can visit the shop to take a look; it is on for all of November. I will try to schedule a ‘Private View’ type evening, but it will be later in the month, as we have been a bit busy.

Looking forwards to Thursday and finding poses with all our models, however clothed they prefer to be; see here if you are interested in coming along – Women Only Life Modelling at Sh!

For some more clothed modelling inspiration;

when I posed last year for Tadworth Art Group
when I posed last year for Tadworth Art Group
seated on the floor
seated on the floor
posing at Citibank where nudity is not allowed
posing at Citibank where nudity is not allowed
drawing by Khadijah who will be drawing on Thursday at Sh! as well as adding her work to the exhibition!
drawing by Khadijah who will be drawing on Thursday at Sh! as well as adding her work to the exhibition!
Today I modelled at Toynbee Art Club and although I was nude, a fashion student imagined clothes on me
Today I modelled at Toynbee Art Club and although I was nude, a fashion student imagined clothes on me
another outfit I do not possess but would like
another outfit I do not possess but would like

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.

20130830_143637

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.

20130830_143642

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.

20130830_143649

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.