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The Create Place, London, 14 March 2017

21 March 2017

I inherited this booking from Lidia: artist, fellow model and friend who’d photographed Esther and me in January last year. She’d travelled to Germany where her anti-FGM film Adam & Eve had been selected to be shown during Berlin Feminist Film Week. Unfortunately, her return flight coincided with a strike by ground staff at Berlin airports; there would be no way to reach her next UK life model booking at The Create Place in Bethnal Green, so she called out for a replacement – and I got the job.

It would be my first time at the Life Drawing Salon but I had heard only nice things. On arriving I introduced myself to the group’s profoundly laid-back organiser, Nils. He had already texted me his pose plan for the evening: three poses of 2-minutes, three of 5-minutes, two of 20-minutes, then a half-hour break, and finally two of 30-minutes to end the evening. Tea, sandwiches and pastries were freely available at the interval and – most novel of all – each pose would be assigned music of the same length.

The ingredients for an excellent evening’s life art were all there so it was little wonder the small ground floor space was packed on all sides by artists. I barely had room to drop my robe and begin. Even the ceiling was close – for the first pose I held onto an overhead beam with one hand and reached back to grab a raised leg with the other. I bumped my head on the lights too, and found the atmosphere in the room hot and at times almost stifling, but truly I loved the intensity, enthusiasm and the playlist.

Working in the round, I turned my way through some tried and tested poses together with a couple of newer variations. When Nils brought the session a halt to at 9:30pm, there was much hubbub and banter. I photographed drawings whilst chatting with the artists – a few of them I’d recognised from other life groups. People will travel happily for the appreciation of their art. Which brings me back to Lidia and her film on female genital mutilation… Adam & Eve is an incredibly powerful work; it must be seen.

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