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Art Macabre vs Giacometti at Tate Modern

29 May 2017

Uniqlo Tate Lates: Giacometti

Friday, May 26, 2017
6:00pm – 10:00pm

Tate Modern

Art Macabre will be part of Uniqlo Tate Late for the first time. Looking forward to exploring the Alberto Giacometti exhibition, with Steve Ritter as our figure to draw from life (those Giacometti-esque limbs can be captured in pencil and also pipe cleaner sculpting). Plus a ‘vanitas‘ still life to sketch from. We’re one of several activities animating this iconic gallery after hours, including our friends from Death Café too, DJs, clay demos and a chance to see the exhibitions.” – Art Macabre

This was indeed a serendipitous alignment: the ever-marvellous Art Macabre invited to début at Tate Modern, Giacometti as their theme and me apparently the go-to London life model for poses in the style of his work. The open nature of the event meant it was decreed I couldn’t be nude, so I wore black leggings with bulked-out feet and wrapped black tape around my belly. Unusually for an Art Macabre event, I was the only model, but Esther came along to lend support. We were ready before 6pm so I began early.


© Art Macabre


© Amy Huitson – Artist


© bowowclick


© Art Macabre

Art Macabre’s director-supreme, Nikki, was calling the pose times while a small team of assistants was on hand to dispense drawing materials for drop-in artists. About half a dozen people were seated on chairs or cushions when we started, and their number grew steadily as the minutes passed. It wasn’t very long before we had a crowd. Pose times were short – 1-minute, 3, 5, 7, 10… never more than 15 – so I was getting quite a work-out, with no other Giacometti-esque model around to share the effort.


© Art Macabre


© Art Macabre


© Art Macabre


© Amy Huitson – Artist


© Amy Huitson – Artist

Notwithstanding my natural Giacometti-style build, I tried to make each pose relevant to his work. Some sought to recreate the shape of individual sculptures, whilst others focused on specific limb arrangements. For variety, I threw in a few random instances of self-expression, but these were the exceptions. Almost all were standing; only four poses in three and a quarter hours took the weight off my feet. Umpteen pipe cleaner models and sketches were collected by Nikki’s assistants for display behind me.


© Art Macabre


© Art Macabre


© marukoniu

Around half-past seven, Nikki must have read my mind and asked if I needed a break. We’d attracted scores of people, but it couldn’t be avoided; I said I would continue for another quarter of an hour and then take a breather. Nikki announced there was to be an interval in which artists could practice drawing the vanitas… or perhaps volunteers would like to try modelling? Two young women stepped up and enjoyed their moment whilst I retreated to devour my complimentary cheese and tomato sandwich.


© Art Macabre

I had started at seven minutes to six (Nikki said), paused at quarter to eight, resumed at seven minutes past eight and would continue till half-past nine. The gathered horde of artists had not diminished in enthusiasm or size during my absence, so we carried on as before. I assumed that very few people would be going the full distance with us, however, so it would be OK to recycle a few poses. The atmosphere was superb, with music and merry hubbub all around – I confess, I rather revelled in being centre stage.


© Art Macabre


© Art Macabre


© Natalie Thomas


© Natalie Thomas


© Natalie Thomas


© Natalie Thomas


© Natalie Thomas

© Natalie Thomas

The last half-hour’s poses were 15-minutes, 5, 5 and finally 4-minutes in the style of a recognisable Giacometti form. It had been an extraordinary evening – I felt exhausted, elated, and emotional as warm applause reverberated across Level 2 of the cavernous Switch House building. With my glasses back on I could properly appreciate artworks that had been taped to the walls and find familiar friendly faces in the crowd. So much positivity! And so many fantastic drawings!

With the clearing-up all but done, Esther and I withdrew to the ‘green room’ on Level 4 where our bags were stored. I dressed and we ate our fill of backstage snacks, before heading to the Founders Arms where we quaffed red wine through to the small hours with Catherine Hall of Drawing the Star; it’s a shame Nikki was burdened with props and unable to join us. Art Macabre and Tate Modern had made a winning combination that will hopefully be repeated many times to come. I was honoured to be a part of it.

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