Tonight I was asked to break the rules of almost a century of Old School Life Drawing tradition! Elation and Joy!
Hesketh Hubbard at the Mall Galleries have a well worn routine. They are a big life drawing society who have met weekly since 1930 and always have 4 models; one portrait, one long pose, one on 15 minute poses and one on half hours. I was booked for this last position but that is beside the point as I was instructed for the first time in the organisation’s history, to ‘do what I want’! They asked this of me knowing my penchant for slow elaborate movement, like a dance in slow motion or my own version of t’ai chi. It’s what I do when warming up for a session and they decided they would like it to be the main event. Hooray for being allowed to be me!
A few days ago it dawned on me this actually requires more thought than normal – or does it? I mean there is the pressure to perform. I had to keep up the warm up (normally 15 minutes of movement max after a period of silent, still meditation – about 10 minutes) for 2 hours! These are artists who are used to a very rigid structure; they might want some word on what to expect. I told them what I knew in that moment, it was very much in the moment. The idea was to give me a chance to truly express myself and if that shook them up a bit (so used to their silent, still, obeisant models) so much the better.
They have known me since near the beginning of my life modelling career, some years ago and they have seen me grow as Spirited Bodies began in their session and several of them have followed it since. We will be returning to The Mall I am pleased to say early in the new year with a more evolved version of Spirited Bodies.
I have been rushing around with endless things to do; I had not planned a routine for this evening, but as I woke today and on the cycle ride into court (I was on jury service) I figured out how I operate. I woke before the alarm and saw sunlight streaming in through the gap in the curtains. I took a moment to gather my thoughts, feel where I am at. I felt joy, excitement and I had the memory of a dream of being at The Mall and Simon (organiser) had left a small sound system there and I realised I could have though had not brought music in. Overall the dream feeling was positive, uplifting, if slightly daunting. I launched into my day with clarity and enthusiasm. I wanted to dress in a way which expressed my essence today and allowed me to move. A packed schedule would not afford me time to practise, but in the right outfit my every move would be a rehearsal. I can access different parts of my character at different times; if I am on the ball I have a say in how and when that happens. Clothes affect how others interact with me and how I feel. I am a very physical being who enjoys the sensuality of movement. Some clothes enhance that sensibility, others inhibit it. Some clothes demonstrate to others that this is part of who I am, others hide it. If I need to access the slithery, dynamic me then I am well advised to dress for it, before I undress.
The Music On the way to court thoughts raced as I pedalled hard – I was late. Despite the dream there would be no music at The Mall, I was sure of that. The only thing that would be different to usual would be my movement. There would however *be music in my head* that would inform the groove of my twist. I would channel some of the techno that an ex-boyfriend implanted into my computer a few years ago. My neighbours must be sick of it as I’ve been playing it regularly and loud. It makes me want to move involuntarily, voluntarily, every which way. It would guide me along with every emotion that pulsed through me since I would move ultra slowly so that the fast beated music may drift in and out of my consciousness. Sometimes I found a position that felt sensational so I stayed there for a while (” This is a pose, I will stay here for a few minutes”) so artists could get more than the line of my thigh or rib-cage. I had done a sequence like this but nothing so long in ‘Girl In Suitcase’.
As I pedalled I thought about clothes and channelling. Choosing items to enhance the way I am today, gave me a lift. I keep bits and pieces from throughout my adulthood. If I’m on a rebellious one, or a sexy one, or a playful one, I’ll find a treasure of ’93, ’97 or 2006 to remind me throughout the day. The tightness of that body, brightness of the tights, holiness of the stockings will send waves through me as I sense them against my skin.
With love and gratitude for the artists this evening, it was a liberating pleasure. Not being tied to their timer gave me reign to be more fully me and find my better poses. We are enjoying the journey together!
Since Spirited Bodies often operates on this freestyle posing basis, I now have new impetus to share knowledge on finding one’s own inspired poses and movement between. Several of the models at the recent event, whilst also loving the experience did mention in feedback that they could do with more guidance.
In my lunch break at Southwark Crown Court I caught up with this fantastic set of sculptures not far from Tower Bridge.
4 thoughts on “Performance Preparation”
by Antony Donaldson (b.1939)
Thank you David
Thank you David