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The Prince Regent, Herne Hill, 23 March 2016

29 March 2016

Unexpectedly, the last time Esther and I were booked together to model at The Prince Regent we ended up running the session. This time the twist was revealed in an email sent by Lisa – organiser of SketchPad Drawing – a fortnight before:

Hi Guys
I have been approached by a production company asking whether they can be part of and film the session on the 23rd. They would only need one of you to be filmed so separate modelling until they have finished.
They would want us to be starting at 5.30pm and going through till my usual finish – You would get paid for your time but I am wondering whether that’s something you are interested in?
I’m not sure it works but thought I would pass it by you. Their film will go out to a teen audience on YouTube – not sure how that works yet either re full nudity – anyway
let me know xx
thanks
Lisa

Both of us would have been game, but I couldn’t get there from my day job until a little after 6pm. Whether I was present or not was immaterial, however, as Esther was the perfect natural pick to represent the profession of life model for an audience of young people. Her work as Artistic Director of Spirited Bodies has seen her nurturing the new and the nervous for years.

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When I arrived, Esther had already completed an interview (clothed) – educating the production team in nuances of gender politics that might otherwise be overlooked. Lisa was setting out more easels in the room where filming would take place, and artists were starting to arrive. Esther undressed and began a sequence of 2-minute poses while filming focused on David, the young guy who would later try modelling.

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As an artist he was tentative, not wholly comfortable, but took the challenge seriously and had an honest go at it. Lisa offered him coaching advice as she moved Esther on to 5-minute poses and slightly longer. When the time came for him to model naked, however, he needed no extra encouragement, just practical advice on how to channel his enthusiasm into the creation of interesting sustainable poses.

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So, while artists in the production room had drawn Esther solo and were now drawing David solo, I passed time in the adjoining room scribbling notes for my blog about our last work together at Mall Galleries. By now, other artists were arriving and setting up around me for the regular session that begins at 7:45pm. Come that time, I got into an open-ended solo pose myself.

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I’d been in pose for about 5 minutes when Lisa looked in and – after checking with me first – declared that it would continue for a further quarter of an hour. The idea was that this would be sufficient time for the production team to clear away, allowing Esther and me to pose together. In fact they were still packing up when Esther joined me for the next informal 10-minute pose.

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Having finished this swift duet, we found the YouTube crew had departed at last and we could rearrange the two room layouts. The plan was to set up two tables in the doorway that connected the rooms, and then rotate the semi-circles of easels to face our new location. There was some scepticism (partly from me) but Lisa was confident and, of course, ultimately proven right in her approach.

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Our initial seated pose was not the most sumptuously comfortable arrangement for either of us, but it was intoxicating fun simply to gaze at each other for 20-minutes, exchanging happy little mutters. We had time for a 10-minute pose before the break so we reprised one from two days before at Mall Galleries, with Esther standing and me lower down, hugging her hips.

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Feedback during the interval was that our work was greatly appreciated but presented a real challenge for the artists to capture two figures satisfactorily in the limited time available. We closed the session with a single long pose of 40-minutes, which gave everyone ample chance to find the lines, shadows and tones. I leaned back onto the wooden door frame, while Esther put her feet up and leaned onto my chest.

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For all our combined years of experience as life models, Esther and I are still learning the right balance between aesthetic intimacy and sustainable comfort. Neither of us likes to feel our own pain, nor the pain of the other; we both had aches at the end. Yet it is such a privilege and pleasure to immerse in this work. A celebratory vegetarian pizza on the way home was well earned. Now we await the final YouTube edit.

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From → Art

One Comment
  1. Steve
    yes it was a fantastic, interesting and insightful evening for you guys, me, the artists and the new folk to life drawing and modelling. You have captured the atmosphere so well and the drawings show your and Ester’s talent and love for your craft and their creative flair.
    It was a pleasure and one to be worked with again – hopefully in more comfortable surroundings x
    Many thanks
    Lisa

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