Summer Solstice with Neo Naturists!

Thanks to my friend Peter I got a last minute ticket to be with the Neo Naturists yesterday when they were at Hayward Gallery doing body painting.

a few people drew on paper

most of us got straight to work painting each other… on each other, as well as clothes

I said I wanted a baby elephant inside my belly

This experience is almost beyond words. The power of touching strangers with a paint brush and exercising expressive motion is very liberating. It ought to be compulsory. To see others’ bodies as normal and then make art with them breaks down barriers. Love love love. How much closer we may all be if we did more of this with each other freely.

I am quite a tactile person and enjoy the touch of the brush

The Neo Naturists are Christine Binnie (originally a life model), her sister Jennifer and their friend Wilma Johnson (all 3 are artists). Their practice blurs the roles of artist, model, tutor & canvas as ideally everyone models, paints, is painted and may instruct. After a long day in the studio we tumbled down to the Thames for the brave ones to strip on the beach, and we danced around a fire for a Solstice ritual. A most healthy act of nudity!

The Neo Naturists began in 1981, they came from a new romantic background where one took hours to get ready. They wanted to channel this obsession with painting the self into an art practice with greater freedom of expression. They performed in body paint in the London club scene. Similar to my previous post about feminists, these women then had a break partly due to the advent of children. The sisters reformed during the Noughties a couple times, and now for the first time the 3 of them are back!

Sucked into the Vortex

Martha & Eve 12th July '10 Vortex for artist Gina Southgate in action

The tutor at Candid yesterday encouraged students to ‘feel the model with both hands – really go all over her body covering the whole volume’. This must be timely because I squelched from pose to pose, bathing in the remote double-handed attention. Anne works well with me, she knows I excel in sensual dynamism and she makes good use. I arch and curve like the best alley cat.

After, I duck on down to Dalston, where friend from birth Caroline Young is entreating me to urban gypsy jazz queen, Sarah Gillespie. This goes down well in the charming intimacy at The Vortex. There are in-jokes and a solid following, captivating delivery too.

Caroline and I were born beds from each other in Archway, back in the late ’70s. As a child my fiddling Father wanted me to learn the violin, and at Saturday orchestra my new best friend… was Caroline. I brought her home, and our Mums remembered each other. Caroline’s had been the memorable vegan on the ward.

Our friendship didn’t look back, and she’s always helped me to depart from the rails when she can. We hit festivals in ’92, drugs soon after. A bit later I wandered off to the Slimelight, she preferring ‘the hippie thing’. Now our lives are seemingly different; she has a family, and I have resisted all sorts of responsibility. One thing we do share is following artistic passion, and creating business from it. She is leading the way in beautiful face & body painting. I of course can’t stop removing my garments, so at some point a uniting of talents I hope is inevitable.

The Vortex is decorated with artwork produced by Gina Southgate, who painted the live musicians on various occasions. It makes for messy, spirited and vibrant action.