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Observatory Community Centre, Cape Town, 27 November 2019

16 Dec 2019

If you ask life models about the personal benefits of nude modelling, most are likely to talk about inward things like improved self-confidence, body acceptance and personal development on a physical, mental, spiritual and emotional level. But I also appreciate the places it’s taken me – parts of cities I would never otherwise visit – and the people I’ve met. So now when I travel, I keep an eye out for life modelling opportunities.

The familiar profile of Table Mountain looming over Cape Town, South Africa

A less familiar outline of Table Mountain from the Observatory district

Ahead of our trip to South Africa, Esther and I contacted The Artists’ Co-operative based in the Observatory district of Cape Town, to ask if they might be interested in drawing us as a couple. They were, so after exchanging several messages, an event was arranged at Observatory Community Centre. This was to be a special session, which meant no local models missed out on their regular paid work.

Observatory Community Hall, Cape Town

Observatory is Cape Town’s Bohemian suburb. We arrived early by Uber to avoid the city’s notorious rush hour traffic and also to have a little look about. After an excellent veggie meal and wine around the corner at Mimi’s, we walked to our venue. Helpfully our contact, Terence, just happened to be outside the entrance at the time. He guided us to the art room and introduced us to the group.

The art room

Special guest model!

Once everyone who’d been expected was present, we settled comfortably together on a sheet-covered sofa. The group was friendly and welcoming, but when the art started they drifted into a quiet focus – the only noise came from window shutters that banged in the wind. We remained motionless for the first hour of what would be a 2-hour pose, with a tea break midway. Excellent works had already emerged by half-time.

During the half-hour internal we joined our artists at the kitchen end of the studio and talked about Cape Town’s art scene. I felt somewhat anomalous as I seemed to be a male model in a room festooned with female-only life studies – possibly symptomatic of male artists outnumbering females two-to-one. Nonetheless, life drawing seems to be thriving here, with several groups meeting regularly. All very encouraging.

Artwork by Terence Visagie

Artwork by Hilary Iwanski

Our sofa was covered with bits of masking tape – legacy place-markers for countless previous models – but we located the ones relevant to us and got into position for our last hour. A couple of stretches for stiff necks and numb arms got us to the finish. The session was unremarkable in its demands on us as models, but I think enriching as a fresh experience for all concerned. There were lots of smiles at the end.

Artwork by Andrew Berman

Thank you, Terence, for making this event, and to all from The Artists’ Co-operative!

From → Art

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