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Poses past, part XV – The Big Draw, Battersea

23 Nov 2012

The two great makers of life drawing events in the capital – London Drawing and Spirited Bodies – came together on 20 October 2012 to present ‘The Big Draw’. Around 50-60 life models and 60-80 artists converged on Battersea Arts Centre for a grand day of creative art, unprecedented in its fluidity, daring and challenges.

London Drawing corralled the artists and Spirited Bodies marshalled the models. My own involvement was on a Spirited Bodies ticket, but with the event generating so much interest among experienced models and potential first-timers alike, the extent of my participation would be limited.

There would be a morning group and an afternoon group, each 30-35 strong, posing for more or less two hours together on a central platform with artists seated around.

In the weeks before, some consideration had been given to developing tableaux with sub-groups of models, using experienced models as coordinators for each group, but on the day the models were given free rein to create and change their own poses.

It would have been nice to model in both sessions but realistically I would have to settle for just one and count myself lucky not to be among the many applicants that could not be accommodated at all. Nonetheless, as a familiar face to Spirited Bodies’ Esther and Lucy, I was on the team for the whole day taking care of admin and backstage duties in the morning, and helping them to pack away after an excellent modelling session in the afternoon.

Although my vantage point changed between morning and afternoon, it seemed to me there was a greater warmth and interaction between models in latter group. This would have been partly due to deliberate contrivances in the second half of the afternoon session such as asking all the models to make a small physical connection to the persons next to them at the outset. Greater confidence seemed to grow within individuals from this collective gesture, and this boldness remained throughout.

Only a well trained eye would have detected who were the experienced models and who were the first timers. Superficially at least, confidence seemed to be distributed in equal measure. Perhaps the experienced models were more inclined to hold a pose for greater lengths of time. All models had the freedom to change pose whenever the mood took them, which possibly vexed a few of the artists. For some this meant every 5-10 minutes, whereas others would hold position for 20-30+ minutes at a time.

In addition to my time at admin, backstage, modelling and tidying up, I also pitched in as one of Lucy’s two semi-official helper photographers of works produced by the artists. One of the great joys of Spirited Bodies events is that artists are always encouraged to make their works available for others to see at the end of each session. All photos went into a Spirited Bodies Facebook album.

The London Drawing team captured the official photographs of the day as it unfolded. I am the standing male figure in the three London Drawing photos copied below.

A full collection of official photos can be found in the London Drawing Flickr set (these ones reproduced with kind permission).

The journalist Lydia Slater took part in this event and documented it, including interviews with other participants, in her article in ‘You’ magazine:
‘Undress Code, My Naked Ambition’ (PDF 789KB).

Of course, if there is a downside to finding so much enjoyment in working with a group like Spirited Bodies it’s that they specialise in creating opportunities for those who wish to model for the first time… and there can only ever be one first time. Any other time is borrowed time, so future opportunities to part of something this wonderful are likely to be even more scarce. Still…

…carpe diem, and dream for tomorrow.

From → Art

  1. What a lovely description, thank you for your contribution.

  2. I am facing my first life model experience in two weeks time. Thanks for the inspiration!

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