I always find it refreshing to hear from those newer to life modelling what it is they find so exciting about it. For Liz it was many things – the way that modelling encourages you to be just the way you are. Whichever body type you are, that is what you accentuate. You cannot hide from yourself. She has long felt her bottom to be too large, disproportionate to the rest of her figure. As a life model her bottom becomes a feature which artists consider her best part, to be shown off.
Liz has only modelled twice; once at Spirited Bodies and once for an artist who met her at Mortlake. She likes the way it makes you want to look after your body so that you do feel good about presenting it. This is a positive side effect I agree, and something I sometimes forget. It’s nice to be maintaining my body not just for myself or a lover, but for all the people I work with too.
A greater interest in art was another plus offset by life modelling Liz found. She wants to see what artists look for and what has been done before.
She has a strong idea about the professionalism involved in life modelling, largely due to being advised by Morimda. She says that the model should never embarress an artist. Many poses for example, could be erotic or not depending on your facial expression. By behaving in a very straight way, you avoid any confusion or awkwardness. This is again something I have just gotten used to. Life modelling I think has allowed me to regain a sort of innocence, since I am not about making erotic art particularly but do love to be expressive and am naturally quite a sexy person. Thinking about it, that is a big gift, to be myself unselfconsciously.
At Spirited Bodies Liz says, you learn from watching others model. First you do a simple pose, then you see someone else do something more free and expressive. Now she thinks of asking artists what they would like to see in her. This is a good tactic; personally I have several ways I can pose or styles, and I know that some artists prefer natural looking poses while others like extremely posed positions. It can be worth checking how they roll or if there is something in particular they are looking for.
Liz feels more aware of her own beauty now because of displaying herself. She is always looking for new inspiration artistically, and she is enthused by the way that every artist can show her something new about herself. Just as every model brings a position out in different ways.
This piece will be continued, and here follows some more images from Spirited Bodies at Notting Hill Visual Arts Festival.
I recently visited the National Portrait Gallery and checked out this annual fare of assorted portraits. It was quite enjoyable with a reasonable amount of deviation from the photographic style which tends to dominate. Not that that isn’t admirable, just gets a little dull when we are constantly surrounded by quality photographic images.
I was less impressed by the winners I have to say, which said very little to me and hardly stood out; one of them, ‘Holly’ barely even a portrait, far closer to a classical nude.
There were two pictures which I particularly remember, and which managed to capture a great deal in terms of resonating with contemporary issues close to my and I am sure many others’ hearts.
This is an amusing image which the artist set up to spark discussion about different styles of art; the model is regarding another depiction of her which has an incredibly abstract style. The artist was born in 1932 which makes me think that he was around for much of the modernist era in Spain, his native land. He has witnessed the breadth of change in art from Picasso through to the present day and must be struck by it, and wonder that we don’t recapture some of modernisms’s finer moments more often. This painting speaks to me about how we view ourselves, and has a comical expression. I visited the gallery with my friend Julia Parr, who has participated in Spirited Bodies, and she pointed out that it clearly reminded her of what it was like to model at the event, and then look at the pictures of herself with awe and wonder.
This is my favourite picture in the exhibition and if I was in charge it would have won! It speaks to me about what Spirited Bodies aims to address, and it so very directly and succinctly sums up the portrayal of women, in relation to family, and as posed by the artist, so it is empowering and questioning, analytical simultaneously. The daughter intrigued by her Mother’s boldness, while the son is shocked, not wanting to see her nude form. The image created by the naked artist comments on society’s unrealistic expectations of women.