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A-side B-side Gallery, Hackney, 26 January 2015

8 February 2015

That moment you walk through a familiar doorway and immediately sense something unfamiliar about the place you’ve entered… such a moment I experienced on my first visit of 2015 to the A-side B-side Gallery.


The beaming welcome from artist and group leader Catherine Hall, from the centre of the room, was exactly as I remembered yet all around seemed different. First I noticed there were twice as many easels. Furthermore they were all new modern black frames rather than the heavy old wooden variety.


The entrance desk was on the right instead of the left. Oh, and the walls had all been painted! And the floor. And there was a portable wooden step with a crimson cushion for models to pose on. And a black curtain as backdrop. In fact, everything about the space was pristine and plush.


It was heart-warming to see. The gallery and its life drawing group are flourishing, and well deserve to be. With Catherine’s keen, clear, one-to-one expert guidance this is a group where amateur artists can improve their basic skills and enjoy learning a broad spectrum of new drawing techniques without pressure or judgement.


Seven of the eight expected artists arrived; we set to work. My first standing pose of 6 minutes was to be drawn blind – eyes to the model, not to the paper. An extraordinary array of forms were created: some surprisingly proportional, others capturing pleasing details, and yet others with a multiplicity of lines that created an animation effect.


We raced through three poses of 30 seconds, two of a minute and three of 3 minutes. These were to hone the eye and line; the essential form was to be outlined within the first 10 seconds. After such intensity we slowed right down with a leisurely 20-minute seated pose that took us to a break.


We resumed with two poses of 10 minutes each before seeing out the evening with a half-hour long pose. For the first 10 minutes, Catherine asked me for a standing pose that incorporated a straight line, so I reached my left arm back to hold a ceiling pillar, then leaned forward.


Left arm and pillar were straight lines forming a right angle from one perspective, with my right arm forming another right angle across my chest. 10 minutes was about my limit for holding that one.


Come 9pm we were done for the evening. Artworks were admired, fixed with spray and rolled up to be taken home. The artists kindly said their thank-yous and – I hope – left satisfied with a positive two hours of creative outpouring.


I wondered whether many of them go to other life drawing groups in London. Possibly not; so if they value being part of an easy-going, pleasant group with constant variety, challenges and progression supported by personalised tips and encouragement, then they may not know quite how lucky they are.


It was fantastic to see more people making the discovery, and the A-side B-side itself with a bright make-over befitting a bright future.


From → Art

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