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Mall Galleries, London, 27 February 2017

2 March 2017

I’ve enjoyed plenty of bookings modelling solo or duo on the 30-minute and long pose sessions for Hesketh Hubbard Art Society… but how might I get on posing for their portrait work? This was the evening I would find out. I was to be seated – clothed and motionless – for one complete hour, then have a 15-minute break for tea and biscuits before returning to another full hour in the same position.

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As ever, I found Mall Galleries busy with artists. Most were there for the nude poses but portraiture gets its own small yet loyal following. Nine artists were present – eight of them practising on the other – when I arrived. With a couple of minutes till our 6pm start, I took my place in front of their semi-circle, picked a convenient gaze point, and settled my body. As always with portrait work, the challenge would be to stay awake.

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I felt my eyelids getting heavier during the first hour, although they never quite flickered shut. Something in the half-time tea must have perked me up, however, as I was quite alert after that. I whiled away the session setting myself geography tests: 25 countries beginning with the letter ‘S’; 15 capital cities beginning with ‘B’; 11 countries beginning with ‘A’; 7 countries beginning with ‘U’…

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I’d employed these simple memory challenges many times before, so really I ought to come up with something original. Not that it matters. In less imaginative moments, I’m more likely to be counting down seconds – anything to pass the time when meditation and internal creative writing elude me. At 8:15pm, we were done. I was very grateful to the six artists who stayed with me and shared a little mutual appreciation at the end.

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