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50 Shades of Pathology

1 May 2015

With quiet admiration, I looked on whilst Aaron painted a delicate column of vertebrae down the inner curve of Louise’s nude back. Meanwhile, kneeling in front of her, Nikki applied an array of colourful digestive organs upon her model’s slender belly.

© Art Macabre
© Art Macabre

I too was naked, the front of my torso painted with half a ribcage, one lung, a liver and a knot of dazzling intestines. My face had the pallor of a corpse, and other patches of skin were given weird disfigurements, each one a minor masterpiece of Aaron’s. I was topped off with a blue turban while Louise had hair plaited and garlanded with flowers.

© Art Macabre

Together, all four of us were the Art Macabre half of a special BArt Macabre drawing salon, completing our final preparations within the curator’s office of Barts Pathology Museum ahead of posing for 50 Shades of Pathology on the main museum floor.

Having worked here once before for Art Macabre, I could vouchsafe that there really is no finer venue for death drawing. All around the walls on three levels of a single well-lit open space there are curious and bizarre specimens of the human body. Louise and I were to be life models among the anatomised deceased.

© Art Macabre

The event was a sell-out and the museum already packed with artists when we paced round the black iron middle landing and descended a spiral staircase to the far corner. We opened with a brief but intriguing presentation on ‘colour in pathology’ from curator Carla Valentine. Shades of death are not merely grey…

© Art Macabre

And so to art. Louise and I had first posed together with friends at our Babylon photo shoot last September and several times since, including this year in Holloway Road and Lincoln’s Inn Fields for photographer Natansky. This would be our first event life modelling together.

© Art Macabre

© Art Macabre

© Art Macabre

© Art Macabre

We were keen to try a few poses in combination but with so many artists seated in a large oval around us – three deep in places – we were forced to work separately most of the time. Dynamic poses of 1 minute, 3, 5 and 7 minutes started us off.


© Art Macabre

Our next pose of 10 minutes was to be our first and only connected pose – our arms linked about one another while I held hands with an anatomical skeleton. Afterwards I provided a solo seated pose for the 15-miuntes that took us up to a drinks break.

© Art Macabre

For the last half an hour we were once again separated to serve different ends of the oval. Louise is such a wonderful model that I did fear my pose might be a lonely vigil. Ultimately I was relieved to find my share of artists was outnumbered by a mere 3:2.

© Art Macabre

© Art Macabre

Rising to our feet at the end, we took our applause together, pulled on our gowns and began admiring the artworks produced. The theme of the evening was colour and duly we found colour aplenty all around, including some real creative gems.


Arguably some of the finest work of the evening had been painted onto our skin at the outset. It was with heavy heart, after we’d parted, that I returned home to shower it off. Another act of desecration. But what an outstanding event at which to showcase such art while it stood bright upon our bodies.

© Art Macabre

From → Art

One Comment
  1. boykog permalink

    Two life models made out of finest china, so fragile and so sturdy at the same time. A perfect combination of style and presentation. They move at the same beat, they breath in perfect synchronisation. You would expect at some point they move as Siamese twins.
    Wish I had more superlatives in store, but I ran out of them. Simply brilliant….

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