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The Cambria, London, 11 March 2015

15 March 2015

Numbness – an occupational hazard for life models. The greater the pose length, the greater the likelihood of it occurring. As such, with the second of my two successive Wednesdays at The Cambria being devoted to longer poses, I might have reckoned upon a slight loss of sensation at some point during proceedings…

I’d thoroughly enjoyed my evening of short poses for Camberwell Life Drawing last week. No pose was longer than 15 minutes, yet each gave the artists enough time to produce some sterling work. By contrast my second visit would have no pose shorter than 15 minutes; excellence would duly result. There would be four poses in total.

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Consistent across both sessions was the efficient management of Tatiana Moressoni. No detail was omitted in the set-up, with newcomers and regulars equally well looked after; and me too. As an adept life model herself, Tatiana knows all the right calls. I’m sure there’s something to be said for artists and group organisers trying life modelling at least once in their lives to better understand its joys and demands.

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It was important to offer variety across the four poses. The sequence I went for was:

  • 15 minutes standing with arms and fists raised
  • 15 minutes seated on the floor with torso angled onto a couch
  • 30 minutes seated upright on the edge of the couch
  • 45 minutes reclining along the length of the couch
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The last of these was the only pose after our half-time break, and ought to have been the most comfortable. Indeed, I was comfortable as I settled down, but the first signs of numbness began seeping and tingling into my right arm about a quarter of the way through. The problem was twofold.

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Firstly, on a previous visit I reclined towards the rear of the couch and had a couple of artists tell me afterwards that their view had been obscured by its panelled arms. This time I set myself along the front edge, but it meant I needed my limbs held in balance rather than being wholly relaxed.

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Secondly, I’m tall. Certainly too tall to fit on the three little base cushions. My left foot was dangling off one end, and my head was tilted at 30° on the opposite arm, cradled heavily on one palm. This meant my right arm was crooked, elevated and squashed. I should have known numbness was inevitable.

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Ever considerate, Tatiana had given me the option of having a stretch halfway through, even before I’d chosen my reckless position. When the time was upon me, however, I knew that a minute spent waggling my arm would make little difference, so decided to stay put till the end.

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Come the end, I sat up and found I’d lost every last vestige of feeling and control in my stricken limb. My hand flopped around with a heavy dullness. Only after a few minutes had passed – during which I sat demurely flexing on the couch – could I even begin to think about dressing myself.

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At least my self-inflicted difficulty wasn’t to the detriment of artists’ work – The overall standard was very impressive. When we were all packed away I retired to the bar with Tatiana and others to partake of some red wine. It was a civilised end to an evening of great art and great company.

The creativity inspired by this session did not end there. Unbeknown to me two artists had used a camera mounted like an angle-poise lamp to record themselves capturing me in pose. The first 15 minutes, plus two interpretations of the final 45 minutes, were edited together into a single 3-minute video. It’s a fascinating insight into technique.

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  1. The Cambria, London, 11 March 2015 | ezarrinp

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