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Hackney Den, London, 14 March 2023

28 Mar 2023

Hackney Den Drawing is a Tuesday evening life drawing group started in December last year by brilliant artist, tutor, organiser and friend Catherine Hall. Her much-loved Drawing the Star sessions have now shifted to be one day later on Wednesdays, so what better way to fill the void than by launching a new group? New… and different.

This was my first visit to the Hackney Den pub and its downstairs art space. The bar area felt chilled, comfortable and came close to luring me into drink, but I’d had a few too many at the weekend so stayed dry. I drifted down to what I imagined would be a murky spot-lit cellar, but instead found a bright clinically-clean tiled gallery space.

It seems I was unlucky to encounter it between exhibitions, otherwise there would be art aplenty. The stark purity of its unadorned monochrome decor had an appeal of its own, however. Soon the walls were lined with artists – the event was a sell-out – and we got underway: a 5 minute pose to begin, like at The Star, but then 10 minutes.

Whereas The Star’s pose lengths start at 5 minutes then dwindle all the way down to three of 30 seconds before increasing again, here they go up and up from the outset. This wasn’t the only difference; the best news is that Catherine is once more offering feedback, tips and informal tuition to the artists. My next pose: 20 minutes seated.

Not since the days of posing for Catherine’s groups at The Russet café (2015-2016), and before that the A-side B-side Gallery (2014-2015), have I had the opportunity to eavesdrop while she gives artistic advice and guidance. With perception, experience, knowledge, clarity and enthusiasm, she’s a natural – I’m so glad she’s doing it again.

After a short break for refreshments, we completed this session with two more poses of 20 minutes each. For the first I stood with left leg a pace forward and arms out low on each side; for the last I sat upright with knees crooked on the floor, leaning slightly forward over my right thigh. Proven postures, both composed and sustainable.

One tradition happily carried over from The Star is that of artists being encouraged to lay their drawings on the floor for mutual appreciation at the end of the evening. Such wonders to behold! From the strong to the stylish to the simple joy of mark-making. It was a pleasure to be here. Sorry I couldn’t stay longer for post-art socialising!

From → Art

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