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Poses past, part X – Spirited Bodies at Mortlake

17 November 2012

Spirited Bodies is something special: a community founded by experienced life models whose passion is “encouraging people to love their bodies as they are, in particular finding body confidence and inner peace via life modelling in a group.” I had already found body confidence via life modelling by the time I found Spirited Bodies but one can always do with a little more inner peace, so I asked if they might find a place for me at a group event in London.

The opportunity arose on 21 July 2012 at Vernon Hall, a recycled church in Mortlake, two weeks after my previous group life modelling experience at the Storey Gallery. This was unpaid work but to me it was an unmissable chance to work with – and learn from – other models, and to share my own experience.

I was among the first to arrive so, after being greeted by Spirited Bodies’ co-founder and my booking arranger, the inestimable Esther Bunting, I made myself useful by setting up the easels. Other models and artists drifted in, and we were soon joined by another Spirited Bodies founder, the magnificent and dauntingly-organised Lucy Saunders.

The dozen-or-so models were split into two groups: one in the centre of the room; the other on a stage at the far end. It would be a three-hour session with a break in the middle. Short poses to begin with, followed by two loosely organised half-hour tableaux. What makes this more interesting than solo modelling is that there’s no benefit in sticking to tried and tested poses; it’s of greater importance to find a pose that creates a dynamic with those adjacent.

One slightly disconcerting aspect of working in a group is that if you’re surrounded by three or four models who, for a wide variety of possible reasons, may appear more visually striking than yourself then it’s tempting to wonder whether you’re standing in discomfort for up to an hour with not one person in the room taking the slightest bit of notice. Mercifully it hasn’t happened yet.

After packing away, we withdrew to a pub by the river for relaxing drinks and happy chat. It was a good end to a fine day with some lovely people. Here are a few shots of the venue and a little of the art born within it (that’s me on the far left):

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