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Mall Galleries, London, 15 July 2016

9 August 2016

The Hesketh Hubbard Art Society Annual Exhibition 2016 at Mall Galleries proved such a success that its scheduled run of six days was extended by a week. Together with several other models and all the society’s members, Esther and I were invited to the private view evening on 21 July. How pleasing it was to find on the wall a charcoal drawing, by Lesley Dabson, for which we’d posed only six days earlier – on the right, top row below.

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Once again we’d been booked to provide four 30-minute duo poses. We arrived early, with time enough to practice a few nude combinations on our central bench. For the artists surrounding us this may have whet the appetite or bred frustration, depending on where they had set-up their easels in relation to the angles we presented. No-one shifted, however, so we began with a standing embrace that eventually found its way to the exhibition.

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For our second half-hour, Esther lay down with a twist and I sat alongside her, facing in the opposite direction. This lasted until the 15-minute interval for tea, biscuits and some socialising. Our third pose was intended to be relatively simple with the two of us seated facing one another with a look of love. The temptation is always to add an extra degree of stretch for the artists, however, and the price this time was a quickly numbed leg for my partner.

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We’d planned to close with us both laying down side-by-side and intertwined, but as Esther’s numbness forced her to stand, instead I sat beside her with my palms on a thigh and shin. The after-effects of her earlier discomfort meant she saw out the final few minutes reclining anyway, but not before our artists had created some wonderful work. Slowly and steadily after the session we recovered sensation in our limbs and could resume a little light mingling.

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Fast-forward six days to the private view – we arrived just in time to catch the end of a speech by Mark Cass, founder of Cass Art. The night’s awards were then decided by our new friend, Jake Spicer; the life drawing honour went to an artist pal of ours, Alan, and the portrait prize was for a commendable likeness of our modelling chum, Clifford. Drawings of Esther were dotted around all the walls, and we even found a couple more of our duo poses among scores of outstanding works.

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Even the showcase video looping by the entrance featured Esther as its model. Enjoy: “Simon Whittle, President of the Society talks about the continued importance of the weekly Life Drawing classes and the excitement and struggle involved in drawing from life. Set up in 1930 amid fears for the future of observational drawing, the Society has continued meeting each week and still emphasise the value of drawing from life for artists working in all sorts of media and disciplines.

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