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Garrett Centre, London, 17 September 2014

21 September 2014

Back at the Garrett Centre in Bethnal Green for Adrian Dutton. The turn-out of artists was good, and as usual they would be working at desks arranged in a square, with a few opting to stand further back at easels. I was to pose at the centre on a judo mat.

This evening was primarily about quick-fire dynamic poses. I’ve decided I prefer these sessions to the longer poses. Whilst they can be more challenging in that many more poses are required, and there is an unspoken expectancy for imagination, originality and variety throughout, still the constant change keeps it interesting with less chance of aches or numbness setting in.

We began with the usual 10 minute pose to give latecomers a chance to get settled, then followed it with five one-minute poses, two of three minutes, one of five minutes, another of 10-12 minutes and finally 15 minutes to take us up to a break.

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During the break – in which tasty rice, snacks and tea were served – I had a very nice conversation with chap who was new to the group, and enthusiastic both about his art and the pace at which the group allowed him to develop. It’s pleasing to get that more rounded feedback about the way life drawing sessions as a whole are working well.

The second half started unannounced, at Adrian’s subtle request, with me setting into a five minute pose. A standing pose of fifteen minute followed, after which, unusually, we went into second set of five quick-fire one-minute poses. A step ladder was then brought forth, upon which I stood in pose for 10 minutes.

Throughout the evening I’d alternated between standing, crouching, kneeling or sitting so for a final 25 minutes I fancied I’d earned a little relaxation and took it laying down, with legs somewhat knotted and both forearms raised.

I was jolted out of my reverie, however, by the sound of a commotion at the entrance. An unknown male had burst in from the street, rambling and shouting. He was fairly incoherent but it was evident that he would not be going quickly or quietly. This was an interesting development.

I decided that, whatever the problem, my job remained to stay still for the artists and only move if it seemed anyone’s safety was at risk. Adrian had taken charge of the situation and was calmly but assertively trying to get rid of the unwanted intruder.

Frustratingly, as I was on my back looking directly up at the ceiling, this scene was playing out just beyond my line of sight. I relied on my in-built proximity sonar (that one naturally assumes one has) to alert me if the whole carry-on spilled beyond the desks and towards my space.

Eventually our visitor was either encouraged or bundled out the door, and the session came to its timely end. I was told later the chap was drunk, had claimed to have been stabbed – he apparently showed an old wound – and proceeded to demand money. The police were called.

An incident such as this inevitably makes a session more memorable yet in fact it only occupied a few minutes out of a total two and a half hours, in which the artists had continued their work with serenity and produced some very good drawings.

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It was with some caution that I left the venue to head home. In a nearby dark alleyway I ran into a rough-looking, grizzled, shambling drunk. As I stood at least a foot taller than him he seemed more startled by my sudden presence than vice-versa. Even so I was glad to get home intact and count this as another fine evening of life modelling.

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