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A-side B-side Gallery, Hackney, 20 October 2014

23 Oct 2014

It’s funny how things work out. On the Monday between two Mondays for which I was official ‘reserve’ life model of the A-side B-side Gallery, I received an email asking if I would be available that same evening. Neither the booked model nor the listed reserve could make it. I could, and so I did.

There would be five of us all told: the two Catherines – organiser and tutor – plus two artists and me. It astonishes me that people aren’t queuing up to join this group as in Catherine Hall they have possibly the most enthusiastic, resourceful and sensitively attentive tutor I’ve worked with.

This was my third time there. Each time Catherine has set wildly different challenges for both the artists and model alike with the aim of producing quality life drawing while exploring different methodologies. Explanations are brief yet comprehensive and clear. Afterwards it’s hints, tips and chill-out music all the way.

We warmed up with standing poses of 5 minutes, 3 minutes and three of 1 minute. I was then to be seated upon a low stool in a single pose for an hour and a half with a short break in the middle. The pose had my legs bent and a body-twist to the left so, whilst not especially comfortable, it was endurable.

The key practice point in this session was the use of plumb-lines to establish a fixed vertical in my body, then using the string horizontally to construct an outline of points. Something like that, anyway. Obviously it was impossible for me to see exactly what was going on.

In a novel move it was the artists’ foot positions that were initially marked on the floor with masking tape at a good distance from their easels. They would observe me from this distance then step forward to make marks on their paper without looking back to me whenever they were close up.

In the first session particularly, they were forever observing at a distance, taking three paces forward, marking close-up, taking three paces back and so on. I reckoned they each must have covered about a quarter of a mile. Catherine too, as she joined in the creativity.

After the break we did our best to put me back into exactly the same position. I don’t think we got it spot on, but we were near enough for everyone to be happy continuing.

At the end of the evening we had three very good drawings, each of its own character and style. One had nailed the tones, another the form, and another the face. Keeping in mind the two artists were using this plumb-line technique for a first time I thought it was a superb effort all round.



I will be looking forward to my next scheduled return to the gallery in two weeks’ time. What new practices will Catherine have in store for us? And, who knows? As I’m first reserve for next Monday I may not even have to wait a fortnight to find out…

From → Art

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