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Mall Galleries, London, 16 October 2021

27 Oct 2021

When I modelled for Hesketh Hubbard Art Society at Mall Galleries in late October last year, artist numbers were low. Pre-vaccine, we were between COVID lockdowns and understandably many people still observed self-imposed restrictions. A year later the pandemic remains but, notwithstanding more than a thousand deaths each week, medically and mentally we’re in a different place. Now the room was busy.

This evening I was to sit for Hesketh Hubbard’s portrait artists. My throne awaited me at the west end of the main space, framed on all sides by beautiful, colourful, uplifting works from the Society of Wildlife Artists‘ annual exhibition 2021, ‘The Natural Eye‘. At 6pm, I froze in position and fixed my gaze point. Having removed my spectacles, it was more a ‘gaze haze’ than a gaze point. Nonetheless, I eyeballed it attentively.

The first hour was comfortable enough. My only sense of time’s passage comes from overhearing calls for the model on short poses to “change, please” every 15 minutes. I’ve no reason to doubt the accuracy of these calls but while locked within myself and under the intense scrutiny of artists, some 15-minutes seem to last much longer than others. At the interval I drank tea and gorged on copious biscuits before resuming.

The second hour was, for reasons I would struggle to define, less satisfying. My mind lacked focus in its wanderings and my legs wanted to stretch out; or maybe it was my legs that needed to wander and my mind to be stretched. Also I was mortified when it was pointed out belatedly that my hair had shifted to cover one ear and should be put back. Details are important. But we made it through, and the art was outstanding.

The portrait above is by Desmond Sloane: on the left, work accomplished in 2 hours; on the right, the same work having been completed sans-model in the studio.

From → Art

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