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Garrett Centre, London, 1 August 2014

6 August 2014

Contrast Friday’s life modelling with the session three days before. Whilst Tuesday was full of quick-fire dynamism, Friday was all about the long pose. That’s not to say just one pose was held throughout. Like Tuesday, I started with four short poses, but on that occasion they each lasted 30 seconds; Friday’s were 10, 5, 5 and 10 minutes.

I began with a standing pose, cowering with arms raised as if protecting myself from a threat approaching from high to the left. Next I was cross-legged on the floor with arms out on each side in ‘V’ shapes. Standing again for the third pose, I took a step forward and reached out as though to grab an object in front of me.

For the final short pose I was back on the floor: one leg a flat ‘V’, the other with knee raised, chin resting on knee, and both hands extended forward to hold my foot. Ample variety there to take us into the main act.

A base for the long pose had been assembled before I arrived. Cushions and blankets were banked over a boxer’s punch-bag that lay sideways on the floor. I simply spread my king-size white sheet over the whole lot.

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Before any artists arrived, the session organiser, Tom, had lain on it to show the pose he wanted – reclining with one arm extended and the other limbs angled. This was the pose I clambered into when the moment came.

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I would hold this for half an hour, after which we would break for 25 minutes. and then resume in the same pose for the remaining hour or so. Tom used pieces of masking tape as markers to help me get back into position after the break.

One drawback was that everything beneath me was much compressed when the tape was put down. This meant the relative positions changed slightly when I stood and all the cushioning bulged outwards. I did my best to resume as per before. We called for corrections from the artists, and I was pleased that suggestions were forthcoming.

The other drawback was that most of my weight bore down onto one buttock, which itself was not well supported. I should have been more mindful of this when I first got into position and made certain I had a level surface beneath my primary contact point. Discomfort had started to make itself felt at the end of the first session, and became rather unpleasant for much of the next hour.

The show goes on, of course. I briefly stretched my arms after another half-hour, but otherwise held pose. It was a muggy summer night and I was laying beneath a warm spotlight – at the end I raised my head from where it rested across my right arm and found sweat had peeled away a layer of skin. Such is the glamour of modelling.

Importantly, however, when I spoke with artists afterwards they complimented me on keeping still throughout. Constantly within myself I’d felt I was making micro muscle adjustments to alternate pressure points – I was pleased this wasn’t noticeable.

What had looked like being one of the more comfortable poses I would ever be asked to hold, actually turned into one of my tougher nights. But no matter. It was entirely of my own making, and an experience I can draw from in future sessions. That’s how we improve: by learning at our limits, and not – literally – from within our comfort zone.

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