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Revolutionary Deaths

13 June 2016

Why do I have to be naked..?
Because you’ll be in the bath!

Wearing nothing but bandages on my head, I’d just been led down a flight of stairs and was standing before 21 artists and a fabrication of chairs, boards and materials that would serve as a make-believe tub. It may seem unlikely, but this construction somehow appeared rather authentic, and so did I. For the next half an hour, I was to be the corpse of 18th century French journalist Jean-Paul Marat, for ‘Revolutionary Deaths: Art Macabre at UCL Art Museum‘.

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The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David.

It was my first appearance of the year for Art Macabre, and my first time ever at UCL Art Museum, in central London. The event had a French Revolution theme. Artists were invited: “Join us for a unique evening of drawing and history. View the exhibition ‘Revolution under a king’ and draw life models posing in theatrical tableaux, capturing the spirit and drama of the French Revolution. Create your own illustrations from these key moments in history.

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Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix.

I was one of two models booked for the occasion. First to pose was my good buddy Louise, who would be representing Marianne, allegorical spirit of liberty adopted by the French Republic. She had played this role just a couple of weeks before for The Secret Drawing Club, which she organises with husband Nick. They’d both arrived armed with rifle, bayonette, spear, flags and assorted other props to compliment her magnificent poses for 5, 10 and 30-minutes.

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© Art Macabre

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© Art Macabre

While Louise posed for an arc of artists in the exhibition room, I was out of sight on a balcony immediately above. Art Macabre chief, Nikki – aka Raven Rouge – described the historical context before each pose, and then gave it a contemporary bite with her accompanying riot grrrl playlist. Afterwards, I had enough time to pop downstairs and photograph a few of the drawings that had been inspired. The standard was high and I was keen to see what they would make of me.

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I need you to take your shirt off and I need you to be naked.” It was time to conclude my transformation into Marat. Bandages had already been applied to my head, and a floppy fringe of hair drawn on my forehead. Now I was to have a bloody wound painted on to my chest – significantly more gory than was depicted in the famous painting by Jacques-Louis David but, of course, this was Art Macabre. And the nakedness? Well, that’s just what we do.

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© Art Macabre

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© Art Macabre

It was only a single, well-cushioned seated pose lasting half an hour but it was tough going. My head had to be completely lolled over on one side, and my neck stretched taut throughout. It became painful quite early on and remained thus for the duration. I was mindfully counting down the seconds from about a third of the way in. As hoped, however, some excellent drawings were the reward for my suffering. That, and a little red wine. It felt good to be back.

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From → Art

One Comment
  1. boykog permalink

    Exeptionelle- bravo Louise et Steve!!!

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