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The Star by Hackney Downs, 23 April 2015

2 May 2015

People of Hackney! If you rather fancy you’d enjoy a laid-back evening with a drink in one hand and a pencil in the other, sketching a nude human body upstairs at one of London’s trendier pubs, then why not saunter down to The Star by Hackney Downs on Thursday evenings?

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I was there myself Thursday last week, not as a patron but as the nude human body. Upon arriving I was greeted by Catherine Hall. On Mondays she provides superb life drawing tuition at the A-side B-side Gallery in Hackney Downs Studios. ‘Drawing the Star‘, however, is purely for relaxation and enjoyment.

Next to arrive was Carla Nizzola, the artist who runs the group jointly with Catherine. Together they finished preparing the pose space, plugging in our evening’s music and setting out materials – included in the £7 price – for the artists. We talked through the pose times, looked at some inspirational pieces, and at 7:30pm we were ready.

I began with 10 minutes perched on the edge of a high chair in front of the five-pointed star of red and white light bulbs on the back wall, then continued with a pseudo-yoga cross-legged pose on the same chair. A fine glow of natural light cast shadows away from our side windows.

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For 3 minutes I stood in a crucifix stance across the star itself, occasionally flinching my buttocks away from the hotter bulbs. We next went dynamic with three 1-minute and three 30-second poses, before finishing the first half with 15 minutes standing in the style of Rodin’s sculpture ‘Eve’.

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After a break we completed our evening’s work with a 15-minute pose slouching in a small leather chair, and finally 10 minutes squatting before the bright bulb-lit star. All done, the entire floor became a carpet of drawings. This evening’s art had been of a particularly good quality. I reprised my yoga pose for photos in their midst before we cleared away.

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We repaired to the bar and, with large gin and tonic in hand, I joined Catherine, Carla and the others outside chatting about art, the universe and everything. It had indeed been a laid-back evening, purely for relaxation and enjoyment. I do like life drawing in pubs; nice atmosphere, great people, good times.

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