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Day of the Dead 2014, part 2

14 Nov 2014

After a Saturday afternoon modelling in the windowless basement of The Book Club, Shoreditch, my Day of the Dead weekend resumed on Sunday as an alfresco model at Downhills Park, Tottenham.



Sunday’s event was the Tottenham Ploughman Day of the Dead. The ‘ploughman’ originally brought together local artisan producers of bread, cheese and beer – hence the name. Now it embraces all aspects of community life… including life drawing.

I had been invited to pitch up with Tottenham Art Classes and model for anyone that felt inspired to draw. Posing in the middle of a field in broad daylight for a community celebration, I was not required to be nude (although they only had to ask.)

The intention was for me to be bare-chested with face and torso painted. On the day, however, in the brisk chill of November we settled for open-shirted. My semi-skeletal face paint, gems and a broken black heart were all expertly applied by Susan, an art class regular.


Cold wasn’t the worst element to beset us that day. Within moments of my arrival we had rain lashing down like stair rods. We were prisoners under an open-sided canvas tent and feared for a while that the whole event might be abandoned. Happily, the rain relented in time to spare us an afternoon washout.

Also happy was the arrival of professional artist, actor and all-round supreme being, Edward Wills. In his top hat and made to measure bio-resin face mask, it took me more than a split second to recognise him. The costumed elegance and delightfully louche manner, however, was a dead give-away.

Ed and I weren’t the only bizarre-looking characters stalking the park that day. We enjoyed the rare delight of sharing a tent with two mummers. Modernised medieval meets Mexican morgue; we made a rum crowd.


Photo by Joe Culleton.

Down to work. Ed and I would pose for two, three or five minutes at a time, while Taz of Tottenham Arts was our carny, cheerfully tempting passers-by to pick up a pencil and get creative – a snip at £2 a go. It was all very laid-back and entertaining.


Before the end of our two hours, Taz herself had succumbed to the temptation of Day of the Dead face paint. The good folk of Tottenham had come out to play despite the early foul weather and a jolly afternoon was had by all.

Photo by Joe Culleton.


Only one hiccup: I had brought soap and a towel with the intention of washing off my face paint at the Downhills Park Café but unfortunately their sinks were having a bad time. Thus, my homeward journey on public transport was as you see me here.



On a train out of Barking, one chap asked me what it was all about. When I told him he replied, “I bet you were painted to entertain the kids, but you had as much fun as they did.” I smiled and thought: how very perceptive.

From → Art

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