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The Exchange, Erith, 6 February 2020

13 Feb 2020

It’s a wonderful story: a grand red-brick library building more than a hundred years old but fallen out of use and into disrepair, now reopened and re-energised by community activists. The Exchange in Erith today is home to artist workshops for print-making, textiles, woodwork and ceramics, has its own bar, restaurant and gardens, and hosts a diverse programme of events – including life drawing. I was its first model.

Upon arriving early, I was welcomed by Peter, the group’s organiser and Colin, one of the resident artists. Colin gave me a full tour of the three-storey building, enabling me to appreciate the true passion being poured into its restoration. The life drawing room was a simple cosy space equipped with easels and nice touches like pot plants either side of the model’s chair. I started on the chair with what became a 45-minute pose.

I say “became” as it was originally supposed to be 15-20 minutes, but I was asked if I would mind extending it. I felt comfortable, so I didn’t mind at all. After a short interval, we went with a single 50-minute pose that took us through to the end. Apart from one of my arms going numb and two artists’ easels collapsing, it all went splendidly well. I was treated with genuine warmth – great place, great story, great people.

From → Art

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