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The Star by Hackney Downs, 20 October 2015

25 October 2015

I’ve never tried it that way round before, in all the time I’ve been drawing.” Thus spake Catherine Hall who, with Carla Nizzola, co-organises Drawing the Star – Tuesday night life drawing at The Star by Hackney Downs. We were sitting with beer or wine in hands at one of the pub’s outside tables, preparatory to our 7:30pm start.

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We would be tinkering with the fabric of time. The established order of pose lengths here begins 5-minutes, 3, 2-minutes, then three of 1-minute and three of 30-seconds. The plan this evening, however, was to reverse that order entirely and begin with the super-quick 30-second poses. How would the artists cope with being thrust in at this pace? We would discover.

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At the appointed time, the three of us and six artists took our respective places in the pub’s small function room upstairs. Catherine put on her Kronos Quartet soundtrack, and I took off my clothes. So… 30 seconds. I got down on one knee, twisted my body round and reached both arms upward towards the ceiling. I reckoned I could hold that for 30 seconds.

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Amusingly, what ensued instead was a 30-second debate about whether to start with 30-second poses after all, or if would be best to put the 1-minute poses first. The call for 1-minutes carried the day, and this became official with the announcement: “Right, this is a 1-minute pose.” Time is a fickle companion for life models.

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What followed was a mixture of standing (dynamic or passive) and seated (on a high stool, a low chair, or the floor) poses. The session in its entirety only lasts for an hour and a half – including a break in the middle – instead of the more common two-hours, so no pose exceeded 15 minutes. The preference of the group was for shorter work.

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Afterwards I dressed and, as is customary, all works were spread upon the floor for general admiration. I love it when groups do that, and I believe that artists generally find it a positive act of sharing too. We took photographs and then retired downstairs to resume at the outside refreshment tables. I’m in a good place right now, and this was a good evening in good company.

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