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A-side B-side Gallery, Hackney, 16 March 2015

22 March 2015

The phone call came at ten past five. It was a root canal. Mercifully not for me; rather one had been inflicted on the model due at the A-side B-side Gallery from 7pm that evening. Apparently they were in no condition to pose, so the gallery asked if I would step in as a last-minute “life saver”. A quick check of train timetables showed I could just about make it. The gig was on.

This turn of events was doubly unexpected as I’d modelled for the A-side B-side only the week before. I’d left at the end of that evening with a spring in my step, and the hope that I might get another booking perhaps as early as May. Little did I imagine it would be seven days later.

As per the previous Monday, we kicked off with a spot of collaborative drawing. Each artist drew for 3 minutes at their easel and then moved leftwards to the next adjacent easel, continuing the work they inherited there for another 3 minutes, and so on.

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As ever, Catherine Hall was our effervescent and informative group tutor. Differences she brought to this week’s collaboration included: use of brown paper; having drawing materials stay with the easels rather than the artists; and limiting the exercise to just four rounds. Afterwards everyone returned to their original easel and we resumed with more traditional work, starting with a 15-minute standing pose.

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A 15-minute seated pose took us up to an interval. Somehow I’d contrived to direct a disproportionate amount of body weight onto my right leg during the first three poses, so I made a mental note to go easy on it during the second half of the evening.

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After refreshment and al fresco cigarettes for the artists, we had about 45 minutes for our final session. It would be divided into two poses, with Catherine opting for lengths of 15 and 30 minutes. I would be standing for the first 15 minutes (on my left leg).

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The final half-hour was once more seated. For variation I angled my body one way, my face another, and cradled one crooked leg with hands locked on the shin. This longest pose of the evening probably looked the least comfortable but I was perfectly balanced with no danger of aches or numbness.

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Pose done, the artists started drifting home. For the first time since I began modelling at the A-side B-side, a little over a year ago, it was a full house: ten artists and not an easel left to spare. I’ve said before that this is a group deserving of success, so it was particularly pleasing to find it at maximum capacity.

I’m the official ‘first reserve’ model for the gallery next week. I’ve said to Catherine that I sincerely hope they don’t have another model dropping out as there might be mutiny amongst the artists if they had me for three weeks in succession. Equally sincerely, I do love modelling here so hope it’s not too many months before I’m back again.

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