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Rose Lipman Building, London, 24 February 2015

3 March 2015

A familiar face in an unfamiliar place: I had arrived for my first time life modelling at the Rose Lipman Building in Islington and was just embarking on a circuit of its exterior to find the way in, when I spotted Adrian Dutton. As I was there for Adrian’s Tuesday night life drawing group, he was just the man to follow.

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Inside, we prepared the main hall with help from regular artists. I placed orange plastic chairs in a square arrangement with about ten on each side. Wooden frames were put in front of these for artists to rest their boards on. Art materials were stacked on a pair of tables that had been unfolded near the door.

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I was to model with a chap by the name of Ray. He had made his life modelling début, first time anywhere, at the same venue just a week previously and could now use this follow-up as a chance to see an experienced model posing. In a way I felt a degree of responsibility, although the most useful thing I could do for him would be to treat it as nothing out of the ordinary.

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We were spoiled with no fewer than four electric heaters: two heavyweight units at the corners of the square farthest from the door, and two smaller ones nearer the carpet of yoga mats on which we would pose. With a good turn-out of artists seated and primed to draw, Adrian introduced us. We slipped off our robes and started our first 10-minute standing poses.

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A sequence of shorter poses followed: 1 minute, 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes. Another 10-minute pose brought us full circle before a 20-minute pose sitting back-to-back on the floor took us to a half-time break. As always at Adrian’s groups, hot food, hot drinks and snacks were free for all.

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We resumed with a 15-minute pose, followed by another quick-fire round: 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 3 minutes. To close the night, Adrian suggested Ray pose for a half-hour while I do three sets of 10-minutes. Somewhere halfway through, this mutated into me posing twice for 15-minutes, while Ray did 20 minutes and 10 minutes. So be it.

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Afterwards I shared a few random tips with Ray: extending limbs for the short dynamic poses but keeping them supported for longer poses; alternating to face all sides of the room; pacing the poses throughout a session; items worth bringing along in a kit bag; and so forth. Ultimately every model has to learn from what their own body tells them, however.

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Before I slipped away into the night there was time enough left for me to photograph a selection of drawings that artists had placed on the floor. New venue, new model, new faces, familiar faces too, and the joy of life modelling continues.

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