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Eastbourne House, London, 23 June 2014

26 June 2014

How good to be back modelling at Eastbourne House for Adrian Dutton. It had been two months since my last work in Bethnal Green; three months since my last visit to the venue; and it was the first time in 2014 I would be working solo for one of Adrian’s groups. He and Anya were already setting up when I arrived.

For reasons I never did work out there were all manner of bizarre props in the hall. On the downside this meant I was limited for space in which to change, but it also meant I could pose with some odd items. Adrian had already picked out a rickety nineteenth century wheelchair for me to pose with. I added an empty wine bottle and a gruesome model severed head. Adrian denounced the latter as “horrible” but I found it irresistible.

My posing space was prepared, seats were set out and all we lacked was artists. At our 7pm start time there was still just a handful present. We contemplated putting on the kettle as we waited for more people to turn up. Those already there deserved their full money’s worth, however, so I entered the arena.

The short poses

Adrian gave me a warm introduction ahead of my first pose, which would be the usual starter for 10 minutes. The room was quite full by the end. I moved on to five quick-fire one-minute poses, followed by three short poses of three minutes, three minutes, five minutes. I used my first prop – the wine bottle – in a three minute pose laying flat out, pretending to take a long swig.

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On the right: the starter for 10, and five one-minute poses

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Five one-minute poses

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One-minute kneeling pose

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One-minute standing pose

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One-minute standing pose

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Clockwise from top left: five minutes, three minutes, three minutes

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Clockwise from top left: five minutes, three minutes, three minutes

Medium poses

Next was a standing pose with left hand pointing up and right palm facing down. This was to last 10 minutes but it felt more like five. Maybe I was too comfortable. Another 10-minute pose was a tad more strenuous, leaning forwards with hands up around my head and my full weight bearing down through one leg. I took it easier for the following 15-minutes, seated in the wheelchair.

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Two 10-minute standing poses

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10-miunte standing pose

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Clockwise from bottom left: three, five, 10, 10 and 15-minute poses

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15 minutes, 10 minutes and 10 minutes

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15-miuntes seated pose in wheelchair

Taking a break

There was a nice surprise ahead of our refreshments break: Adrian announced that he and Anya had married at the weekend. We applauded warmly, and I suddenly had the peculiar sensation of life modelling at a couple’s honeymoon. A big spread of wedding wine and nibbles had been set out for us to feast upon, and we were all invited to leave a comment in the wedding book. Happy times.

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Art unattended during our refreshment break

Longer poses

A long interval left just 45 minutes to close the evening. Adrian asked for a 20-minute pose and a 25-minute pose. It’s not unusual to end a pose sequence either seated or horizontal but I rather felt like finishing on my feet. Thus it would be 20 minutes laying down and 25 minutes standing. Time to bring in the last prop.

A challenge for the long poses is to find positions that offer an interesting perspective from every vantage point in the room. I feel sorry for artists when they’re facing a long session with nothing but a back to look at. Thus, I lay down bent at a right angle with one leg crooked upwards, my body up on one elbow, and both hands reaching out to the severed head. Something for everyone, surely.

When standing for 25 minutes I held out the head on an extended forearm and leaned backwards. I was nicely balanced and felt comfortable throughout. Nonetheless when Adrian called time and I tried to straighten myself it felt as though my spine had been set in concrete. Gingerly I eased back into motion.

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20 minutes laying sideways

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20 minutes laying sideways

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20 minutes laying sideways

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20 minutes laying sideways

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20 minutes laying sideways

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25 minutes standing, 20 minutes laying sideways

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25 minutes standing, 20 minutes laying sideways

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25 minutes standing, 20 minutes laying sideways

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25 minute standing pose

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25 minute standing pose

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25 minute standing pose

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25 minute standing pose

After taking photographs of the many splendid artworks, I returned to where I’d left my clothes, only to find they were buried under tables and chairs as stacked away by the artists. A bit of clambering was needed to get fully dressed.

From the novel quirkiness of naked bike riding, volunteering at the Royal Academy and being photographed by Spencer Tunick it felt satisfying to be back putting in a full night of solo poses for a large circle of artists. I like the purity and simplicity of this work, along with its flipside: the challenge of somehow injecting a little originality each time. It went pretty well, I thought, and I’m raring to go for the next one.

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