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Spirited Bodies: Life Drawing Living Room #4

18 Aug 2021

When the life drawing world went online from the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Esther and I were reluctant to follow. We both derive greatest satisfaction from sharing all our spatial dimensions with artists and were slow to embrace change. However, when Esther’s Spirited Bodies turned 10 years-old in November 2020, the anniversary was too significant not to be celebrated with past participants. At the time her only option was to stage an event online, so she did. It was a great success.

In early 2021, Spirited Bodies collaborated successfully online with organisations like The Barber Institute of Fine Arts and LSE Mental Health Collective, yet ironically Spirited Bodies’ own events only went online once lockdown restrictions had lifted. In July, Esther launched a new hybrid format, Life drawing Living Room, where a strictly limited number of tickets are offered for people to draw models in-person (and maybe even try modelling too) in the safe space of her flat, whilst others draw online.

Art from the room: Ken Bruin.

Spirited Bodies empowers models to express themselves through their own words as well as their poses. Esther spoke at Life drawing Living Room #1, Peter at #2, Leo at #3, then I joined Esther for this fourth session. We posed solo and as a couple, whilst Esther spoke on the theme of sexuality and relationships; not specifically our own but observing how – for many Spirited Bodies participants – the opportunity to pose nude in front of others can address a deep-rooted need to be seen, understood and valued.

Art from online: Robert Black.

At 7pm, 11 August 2021, with three artists in the room and plenty more online, Esther asked me to get us underway with three 5-minute warm-up poses. Not any old poses either. She wanted me to show vulnerability (I cringed and raised one protective arm), curiosity (I rubbed my chin and gestured outward) and masculinity (I tried to come up with a form that’s not essentially toxic, and settled on the masculine figure of Rodin’s ‘The Thinker‘ – or as close as as my scrawny figure could replicate).

Art from the room: Richard Norman.

Next it was Esther’s turn to go solo. She opted to represent of female sexuality with a slow-motion dance movement pose to music. The track lasted 5-minutes, after which she froze in position and spoke more about her subject. I take my hat off to any artist who can do magical things with movement poses, so I go bare-headed for Richard in the room and Sarah online. We completed our first half with duo poses of 15 minutes and 10 minutes; each an intimate embrace.

Art from online: Sarah Davis.

After a break of ten minutes, we completed our evening’s work with two longer poses. For the first we sat side-by-side for 20 minutes, making our own shapes with a gentle connection whilst Esther talked. I blurted a couple of unbidden monologues, although these probably spoke rather more of the red wine I’d swigged at the interval, than our subject matter. We let a playlist take over for our last pose of 30-minutes. By the end, Jane Birkin was moaning in ecstasy as Serge Gainsbourg remained nonplussed.

Art from the room: Steve Wilson.

It had been an uplifting two hours. We felt appreciation and warmth, both in the room and online. All artists joined in sharing their works, and several stayed to chat with us afterwards. Life drawing Living Room events are set to continue with different models posing. Get details via spiritedbodies.com and facebook.com/spiritedbodies. You can also enjoy a video of this session, which is still available to watch or download by donation to paypal.me/EstherBunting – email info.spiritedbodies@gmail.com!  πŸ˜€

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