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Lewisham Arthouse, London, 7 October 2018

11 October 2018

The first fortnight of October was already my busiest two weeks of the year when I got an email from London Drawing Group asking if I would be available to pose for a full day Egon Schiele themed class at Lewisham Arthouse. I had promised myself: no more bookings!  But… London Drawing Group… Egon Schiele… it had to be done.

1-minute and 3-minute poses

Clearly I wasn’t the only fan of this association as tickets for the session sold out very quickly. Lucy McGeown was leading the class; she opened with a short biography of Schiele, from early artistic development to imprisonment for “public immorality”. When our artists were ready, we warmed-up with ten 1-minutes poses and four of 3-minutes.

10-minute poses

I’d modelled for an Egon Schiele class run by London Drawing Group in August 2017, and was happy to reprise that occasion now. My physique lends itself naturally to the poses in his work; I may be twice the age of the artist in his prime and may have had twice the dinners, but I can emulate his public immorality! Two 10-minute poses next.

20-minute pose

At no stage was I asked to replicate any specific pose from Schiele’s paintings. I was simply to supply examples of angularity while Lucy explained various techniques he’d employed at different periods of his all-too-brief career. One 20-minute pose ended the first half, taking us up to an hour-long break for lunch.

4-minute pose

While at lunch, on my own initiative I Googled examples of Schiele’s work that I could try replicating. In one of these, the figure makes a square shape with his arms held at ninety degree angles behind his back. I attempted to do likewise for merely 4-minutes at the start of our second half. Let me tell you, it’s a tough one to maintain.

20-minute poses

Undaunted by my 4-minute fragility, I called upon original Schiele works as inspiration for the next two 20-minute poses: the first standing with one hand on my chin and the other arm across my head; the second seated on the floor, hunched with knees apart and arms crooked about me. Longer poses, but much more bearable.

40-minute pose

For the last 40-minutes of the session I drained the last of my ungainly power: sitting on a stool, one foot on the floor, the other up on the seat, an elbow across my raised knee, and the other hand under its buttock. Not a thing of beauty, but there were ribs, folds, limbs and negative space aplenty – crucially, the artists seemed well pleased.

People say typecasting is not a good thing, but I’m sure I will always appreciate being called upon to pose in the manner of Egon Schiele and his models. It’s an opportunity to become more than the sum of my angles – trying to create physical manifestations of bygone masterpieces and maybe even inspire some new ones. It was a pleasure.

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