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

Lucy channelling ‘The Raft of the Medusa’

Raft of the Medusa
Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As Esther knows, I’ve long wanted to do a Spirited Bodies using ‘The Raft of the Medusa‘ as the inspiration point.  Reluctantly accepting reality, I know that this is not an appropriate re-enactment for inexperienced models, the poses involved are tough and hard to hold.  Tonight, I was modelling for Lucy Sullivan’s evening class at Kingston University.  Lucy and I have history together, I enjoy working with her because she is one of the tutors that encourages my desire to create challenging and intriguing poses, using props to the max.  She’s never forgotten working with me for the first time, with the University of the Arts London student life drawing group.  She insists that I posed with a chair on my head.  This may very well be true, a chair on the head is not unusual for me.

Tonight, I am sick with a horrid head cold, sneezing and generally feeling miserable and definitely weak and feeble.  I am thinking that I will do only simple low stress poses.  There is a donkey, a small bench that allows an artist to sit on it, while the front part can be propped up to form an easel.  Its about two foot high and under 4 foot long.  Hmm.  I’m thinking about the possibilities.  We start with short poses, 5 and 10 minutes, and I start thinking about the Raft of the Medusa, lie on the donkey with one knee up, one leg dangling over the other, my head off the end of the donkey and an arm hanging down into space.  Apart from a 30 minute reclining pose, I stick to my muse.  I stand looking for the ship on the horizon, I clamber over the donkey, I sprawl, as corpse-like as possible, across it.  I am re-enacting at least 17 different bodies, dead and alive, the artists don’t know that – well, they wouldn’t if only I stopped saying ‘The Raft of the Medusa’ with glee as I land in another contorted way.  The artists have to cope with lots of unusual foreshortenings, trust their eyes not their head’s interpretation of what a human body is like.  Everyone is happy.
The images created show that, while I might have been thinking corpses and crowded rafts, the artists were working on their own ideas.  That’s one of the things I most like about modelling – you create a pose and the artist creates their work, somewhere between the two is transformation.  It happened at the last workshop we did on Sunday – 3 people were given an everyday drama and created something artistic.  LaDawn had nicked Carlos’ parking space, they were arguing about it, and David was the peace maker.  Out of this mundane beginning, they formed a pose that could have come out of a Caravaggio of a religious scene.  LaDawn standing, shaking her finger at Carlos, who, on one knee, one arm up entreating, and David with arms outstretched, touching both of them in a clear gesture of reconciliation.  Enacting a scene is liberating, helps you think of poses that mean something through their stance and gesture, and this gives the artists something extra.  Posing for artists is about more than just lounging about naked – its about evoking presence.
Lucy Sullivan, tonight’s tutor, attended one Spirited Bodies workshop and gave great feedback to the participants about their poses and how artists might react to them.  She said that the Spirited Bodies models, all amateur and new to it, were better than professional models she’d booked for her class.  She’d had one model recently who wouldn’t keep still in any pose, and irritated all the artists.  She said that the people modelling at the workshop came up with good poses which they held, were still and a pleasure to draw, and she’d like to work with them again if they wished to after their Spirited Bodies experience.  There could be no better recommendation.  The artists coming on Saturday 20 October are in for a treat.
Looking again at the Raft of the Medusa, I can see that I got the arms the wrong way round for the man spotting the ship on the horizon and there were some more twisty poses that I missed out.  I shall have another go another time.  Some of the images are creased, that’s because the artists had thrown them away – life drawing for artists is like doing scales and arpeggios is for musicians, an essential way of keeping in practice, maintaining and developing technique, a building block not the end itself.  I rather like rootling round in the rubbish bin after an evening’s posing, you never know what you will find.  Sometimes you are amazed at what artists will throw away – other times equally amazed at what they will keep.