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Spirited Bodies ‘Have I Got Nudes for You’ 2018

9 Dec 2018

When Esther was invited to stage one of her Spirited Bodies events at The Doodle Bar in Bermondsey, it was an opportunity to present something new. Multi-model life drawing would meet current affairs in Have I Got Nudes for You. Esther herself was to be modelling, alongside me, Lucy (former Spirited Bodies organiser), and Rodger, our friend who made his Spirited Bodies debut in 2012 at the same event as me.

There were early setbacks – Rodger dropped out sick the day before, Lucy had a bad night, I had been nursing a cold all week and the venue lacked sufficient heating – but we were keen nonetheless! In a far corner the public bar, shielded from view only by a folded table tennis table, we created 15 poses to represent news stories from the past year. When we needed more bodies, volunteers amongst our artists gladly joined in.

Pose I – 2 minutes

We ranged from major global headlines to quirky little footnotes and our intention was that artists could try guessing the story while sketching us. For an opening warm-up I stood straight-backed shaking hands with Esther while she descended painfully (very painfully) low in cringing deference. Lucy offered clues as the clock ticked down…

Now it’s your turn! Scroll slowly and see if you can guess each news story from the clues and images below before the answer is given.

Pose II – 5 minutes

Our second pose was symbolic rather than literal, yet still one of the more wearyingly familiar stories to recognise. Esther and I pulled from opposite ends of a tangled rope; me planted firmly with an EU flag, Esther huffing and puffing with her UK flag, but not really making any progress…

Pose III – 5 minutes

Esther would be flying solo for the next pose. First she put on a plastic blond wig, and then wrapped a sheet around her bottom like a vast nappy, fastening it with a gigantic safety pin. She stretched out on her blue sheet like a big baby floating across the sky, filled with nothing but hot air…

Pose IV – 5 minutes

Another dynamic two-person pose for me and Esther. I was maintaining a firm grip on the object into which I speaking, while Esther tried to grab it from me. At no time was I guilty of placing my hands on her as she tried to do her job – that was just trumped up fake news…

Pose V – 5 minutes

Our friend Adrian undressed and stepped up to participate in the next item. It focused on two men standing beside a line that divided the pose space. To begin with we were on opposite sides of the line but I welcomed Adrian to my side, and we held hands as we turned to pose whilst taking a step back across it together…

Pose VI – 5 minutes

Next came a mellow pose for me and Esther. We each held a nice fat roll-up and took chilled-out seated positions on the floor. Obviously we wouldn’t be permitted to smoke in this joint, or even this country, but they’ve been more relaxed about it in other parts of the world since voting to legalize it…

Pose VII – 10 minutes

Two new volunteers undressed and joined us for our next pose. Esther and Lidia held up a large banner that demanded ‘Repeal the 8th‘ whilst Andy and I, wearing bishops’ mitres, lay defeated beneath their feet. Lidia delivered an impassioned speech on the significance of this news story – both for the country in question and for all women…

Pose VIII – 5 minutes

Meanwhile in the sports news: a football was placed on the floor and I collapsed down beside it, screaming in agony and holding my shin, though nobody was near me. One big international tournament dominated this summer; it went well for the English, even better for the French – but a certain name, ah, played a less than impressive roll…

Pose IX – 5 minutes

This pose was another symbolic one so recognition was trickier. I stood in the manner of the traditional sign for a male toilet. Esther then set her female body directly in front of me, but making only half the same sign, so together we were neither fully Steve nor fully Esther. We then consulted the artists on what they thought of this Act…

Pose X – 15 minutes

Over the years, great art has often been an inspiration for Spirited Bodies multi-model tableaux. The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault had been reimagined for many events, but in recent times its image has become more poignant as thousands attempt desperate sea crossings in tiny craft. Adrian and Andy returned to pose…

Pose XI – 5 minutes

After a half-hour break for food, Esther resumed with a short warm-up pose – our area still lacked the warmth we were promised for this, the first day of December. Her pose was that of a small girl holding a red love-heart balloon, while her legs were paper that had been half cut to ribbons. An extra clue was drawn on the paper itself…

Postcard in this photo: Madonna & Child by Lidia Lidia © 2018.

Pose XII – 10 minutes

A giveaway for this anniversary pose was a large banner declaring ‘Votes for Women‘. Several women in the room stepped forward to take part in this one, but a lack of heat meant only Lucy had the courage to pose nude alongside Esther; Lidia, Judit, Daniela and Paula all kept their clothes on – possibly a first time ever for Paula!

Pose XIII – 20 minutes

Our next pose was one for the boys. Esther joined in too as we didn’t have enough for a full team. Andy, Peter, me, Esther, John and Adrian, all huddled together, crouching low down as if trapped in a cramped place, no room to play, just waiting. This was the longest of our afternoon’s poses…

Pose XIV – 10 minutes

Sometimes Spirited Bodies reflects the news, sometimes it’s in the news. In 2018, it helped drive the news agenda. Esther and I left Andy, Peter, Adrian and John to show the world their dynamic poses – different body types, all body positive, inspiring body acceptance for a developing generation…

Pose XV – 8 minutes

The final pose of the day was reserved for perhaps the biggest news story of them all. Peter, Esther and Adrian lay down on the blue sheet, a tide of humanity amidst a sea of plastic bottles that Lucy and I scattered on and around them. It was the end of this drawing session; we can only hope it doesn’t represent the end of so much more…

How did you do?

We had great fun with this event. Not only in the modelling, but also with the planning. On sifting through the year’s news our intention had been to find stories that we could translate into good life drawing poses, whilst also injecting some laughs, commentary and topical debate. All we needed was a warmer venue! Perhaps Spirited Bodies can take the idea even further next year. I hope you enjoyed guessing 2018’s headlines.

From → Art

One Comment
  1. boykog permalink

    Great show indeed. You guys definitely had great fun, wonderful display of commitment and originality, braving adverse condition. Funny and greatly entertaining. I laughed all the way…bravo!!!

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