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A-side B-side Gallery, Hackney, 9 March 2015

14 March 2015

Although I’m no stranger to the A-side B-side Gallery in Hackney Downs Studios, Monday’s visit was my first time modelling there surrounded by art. ‘Unbroken‘ was the title of the exhibition. On a couple of previous occasions I’d arrived just as works were being packed away, so it was good to turn up this week and find the walls fully occupied by pieces from Kimberley Beach, Helena Collins and Jamie Shaw.

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Kimberley Beach – ‘Progressive Pain‘ (2014), video and screenprints

The artist amid all this art was our group tutor, Catherine Hall. Her gift for proposing new, interesting challenges each session would this time see us begin with a spot of collaborative drawing. Six artists at six easels would draw for 3 minutes then move to the easel on their left, continue its work in progress for another 3 minutes, then move again, and so on until after six rounds every artist had contributed to every drawing.

I’ve modelled for this type of exercise before and, as on those occasions, the finished artworks were surprisingly coherent and accurate. It’s as though no-one wanted to let the side down – everybody made a strong contribution.

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Collaborative drawing – six artists contributing

Although the exercise went very well I think it may have been with some relief that the artists continued thereafter with medium-length poses and an easel all to themselves. 15 minutes standing and 10 minutes seated took us up to our break.

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Afterwards, Catherine asked the artists if they would prefer to draw a single long pose or to divide this second half of the evening into two poses. The expressed preferences were for the latter: two seated poses, 20 minutes and 23 minutes, through to our 9pm finish.

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As ever, Catherine offered tips and techniques on a one-to-one basis throughout while chilled music played in the background. It’s so easy to pose in such conditions. Time floats by, with the mind both fed and soothed. Artists departed with smiles at the end of the evening, and so did I. Life art once more dispels the Monday blues.

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