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Diorama Arts Centre, London, 24 May 2016

30 May 2016

Disaster! I can’t make the class! The trains. Unofficial strike.” So began a busy text message I received five hours before my début at Diorama Arts Centre – sent by the chap who had booked me. It was followed by many words of comfort and reassurance about how the class would still go ahead and I would be looked after by the regulars; I savoured the frisson of uncertainty.

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I arrived around 15 minutes early at the centre’s reception area and was directed to a ground floor room at the far end of a rabbit-warren corridor. Usually I arrive at a group and find someone in the throes of setting-up, but here the room was utterly devoid of people and objects. This remained the case nearly up until the moment we were due to begin the session.

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Cometh the 6:15pm start time, a head poked round the door and offered a reassuring ‘hi’. At last I felt confident I had come to the right place. I volunteered my services for preparing the space, and the pair of us navigated corridors, stairs and umpteen doors to find a storeroom of art materials on the floor above. Boards, papers, a large box of pens, pencils, charcoals… quite heavy but we got it all down in one trip.

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When we returned to the art room we found another chap busily setting out chairs. It didn’t take too long to complete our preparations. By the time we were ready to start, there were six artists in attendance, all from the same company of animators. Two of them would share responsibilities for timing the poses; I asked if they would like any particular format, but they were happy to leave the choice of pose to me.

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We began with six poses of 3-minutes each. Being animators, I had wondered if they would appreciate a movement sequence, but they were unconcerned – this was their free time and I believe they were happy enough just working on their skills at drawing the human figure in any variety of stances. I gave them six standing poses, switching direction and dynamism at each change.

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Poses of 7-minutes, 10-minutes and 10-minutes completed our first half. After a short interval, in which we admired the works produced thus far, we completed the session with two poses of 20-minutes: one sitting, one reclining. Aside from a cold-blowing air conditioner that finally got through to me during the last pose, this was a nice relaxed session. For a group with an absent organiser, it had been very well organised.

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