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Brockley Adult Education Centre, London, 7 November 2020

15 Nov 2020

What bliss! A full day of proper life modelling, in person. And what good fortune! I was with Esther outside the National Gallery waiting to enter its Artemesia Gentileschi exhibition, when Esther said, “Isn’t that Joanna?” Right enough, Joanna McCormick was walking by. After we’d chatted a while, Joanna said she needed a male model for the whole day on Saturday 7 November and asked if I would be interested…

It was to be a hybrid session at Brockley Adult Education Centre, with some artists present in the room and others participating online via Zoom. The latter aspect would make it my first experience of online life modelling in any situation. This hybrid format made the prospect more palatable for me, as personally I still struggle to find the idea appealing. I arranged my pose space in relation to five easels and a webcam.

Between 10am and 11:15am, we would be working through a sequence of very short poses, each timed by music of the exact length required from an eclectic playlist: five 1-minute poses to start, then three of 3-minutes, two of 5-minutes, one of 10-minutes and one of 15-minutes. Windows were wide open to keep the fresh air circulating but temperatures were mild for mid-autumn. Sunshine and exertion kept me warm.

We took a drinks break for quarter of an hour, then resumed with poses of 20-minutes and 30-minutes. Prior to each pose Joanna suggested a new method of mark-making for artists to try if they wished, and most would give it a go. Afterwards everybody was invited to show their work and talk a bit about their choice of materials. Remote artists were able to engage with those in the room, and the vibe was upbeat throughout.

We took half an hour for lunch before closing the session with one long pose. I chose to be seated and settled into position at 1:20pm. Stretch breaks could be taken every 20 minutes but I declined the first, opting to stay motionless till 2pm before easing my limbs for a minute or two. At 2:20pm we paused again and all took a 10-minute break before resuming for what would be our final half-hour, taking us up to 3 o’clock.

This session was able to go ahead during England’s second nationwide ‘lockdown’ of the coronavirus pandemic due to an exemption for schools and colleges. In the week that followed, however, all my remaining bookings for 2020 were cancelled. The risks simply appear too great for many institutions. It’s a shame, but understandable. If this was indeed my last booking of the year, well… it was a lovely way to spend the day.

From → Art

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