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The Conservatoire, Blackheath, 17 October 2016

20 October 2016

I hesitated before entering. The Conservatoire in Blackheath is a prestigious centre for music and art, yet the grand building façade that rose before me seemed more for the former than the latter. One is always cautious of approaching unfamiliar premises and announcing, “I’m your life model“, only to find it’s the wrong address. Tentatively I crossed the threshold, made halting enquiries, and was greeted warmly.

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I was escorted along a short corridor, through a café area, and into what their website describes as ‘one of the last remaining purpose built Victorian Life Drawing studios in the country‘. They say, ‘it is incredible to work in‘, and they do not exaggerate one bit. Certainly it is the finest life room I’ve ever modelled in. I would love to pose in it during daylight hours, but for now I was here for the first of three autumnal evenings.

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In tutor Victoria Rance, I found infectious enthusiasm for thoughtful, pleasing, natural poses. In this two-and-a-half hour session, she asked if I could start with two poses of 5-minutes and one of 10-minutes, then hold a single long pose to the end. Inspirations were varied; for 10-minutes I would recreate an ancient bronze sculpture, whilst for the long pose I would mimic a drunk she’d seen crumple from sitting to lying face down.

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I started with a dynamic standing posture and followed it by crouching low. My bronze was altered to make it more naturalistic, and the drunk pose was flipped as the group preferred to see me twisted onto my back. That made it a tad more uncomfortable but I got a couple of breaks for a stretch. Overall I loved the space, thoroughly appreciated Victoria’s approach, and will look forward to working for this group again.

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