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47/49 Tanner Street, London, 5 November 2014

5 November 2014

When I’m booked to model at a new venue, I can usually figure out its nature from the name – a gallery, a community hall or pub – but what might 47/49 be? I pondered this in ignorance as I strolled past the thousands of ceramic remembrance day poppies at the Tower of London, on my way from Fenchurch Street station.

A short walk south of Tower Bridge, I found it: what a remarkable building. Specifically it’s a Victorian warehouse with three floors of raw brick walls, wood beams and vertical iron girders. These days it serves as an event and workshop space for a contemporary arts organisation. For me, its ground floor would be my pose space for the evening.

I’d picked up the booking only the night before – no problem as its one of the easiest London life drawing groups for me to reach. I arrived in good time, changed out of my clothes, and placed my folded white sheet on the floor. At 7pm I disrobed completely and began my first pose for five artists.

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The sequence was four five-minute poses, followed by three 10-minute poses up to a break, and finally two 20-minute poses, with a finish at 9pm. Two more artists arrived during the short poses, making seven in total. There was more than enough space to accommodate 70.

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Another striking feature of the session was the silence whilst art was in progress. Not strictly enforced, nor an awkward silence, it just happened naturally. It wasn’t a group for tuition, there was no music playing, nor even any time calls except at the very end of each pose. Just stillness.

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I’m often asked whether I meditate while modelling. Well, personally I don’t; I’m either too busy concentrating on the pose, or lost in the words of a tutor, or in music, or my own mental contrivances. If ever I were to give meditation a try, however, this would be a superb venue in which to practice.

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The evening was a great example of life art at its most pure. For my 20-minute poses I was invited to chose from a selection of props, and only hesitantly took up a broom on which to lean. It made my standing pose a shade more comfortable, but perhaps took something from the overall minimalism that I’d been quite warming to.

Here was creativity and space and peace… in the heart of London… on Guy Fawkes night. A new group, something a bit different. Life art continues to captivate me.

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