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Portico Gallery, West Norwood, 4 February 2016

10 February 2016

Although I like to allow plenty of time to arrive when I’m booked at a venue for the first time, I hadn’t intended to be fully half an hour early. My timing was fortunate, however, as it meant I reached the front door of Portico Gallery at precisely the same time as life drawing group organiser, Chrissy. She kindly gave me a guided tour of the building, revealing its many levels and surprises.

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I wouldn’t have guessed its unobtrusive little high street façade concealed a cavernous auditorium that in the nineteenth century was Knights Hall. Alas, I was not to follow in the footsteps of Charlie Chaplin by appearing here but instead was shown to a small upstairs room with life drawings papering the walls. Heaters were already switched on; it felt like a good space.

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Chrissy herself is an outstanding artist who has drawn me superbly at The Sun pub in Clapham – see the red and blue works here – but tonight she was facilitating a 3-hour session for seven other artists. We began with a familiar format from The Sun: 5-minute, 4, 3, 2, 1-minute dynamic poses. I stood for the first four and went down on one knee for the last, all with reaching arms.

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For a half-hour I sat in an old armchair with my limbs sprawled, then went 25-minutes standing with clasped hands, my forearms resting on a wooden pottery stand. For the final hour after a break, I was laying chest downwards but with a twist in my body and my legs hitched up. An electric blanket kept me warm, but the length and contortions of the pose meant it was quite uncomfortable by the end.

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This was a pleasant group for which to model – friendly, as small groups so often are, with artists seemingly at ease talking about their work and making light conversation. The creative process was taken seriously but without formality; requested poses were imaginative and artists moved around to find the view they wanted. Overall, a pleasing début at an intriguing venue.

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From → Art

One Comment
  1. Nicely done!

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