Our editor Alice Snape was asked to pose for an Art Macabre lifedrawing session at Museum of London, which was part of the Tattoo London exhibition. As a first-time naked model, here’s how she felt about the experience and seeing her body as art…
“Me? A model? That I am definitely not. I hate having my photo taken, and I am very critical of my appearance, which probably comes from years of self-conscious anxiety and a childhood spent in a chubby awkward body that I was never quite comfortable in – I think I am yet to grown into my nose! But when I was asked by Nikki, who runs Art Macabre, to be a lifedrawing model for the evening, I had to say yes. It felt like one of those experiences that should be on your bucket list, and as a 32-year-old woman who has worked really hard on overcoming that teenage insecurity and becoming comfortable in her own skin, there didn’t seem like a better time to do it.
“Before the evening, I asked Nikki to give me some advice, as a first-timer. She told me to: Breathe and relax into poses and, on a practical note, bring a dressing gown to wear in-between poses and during the break. All day before the event, I was a bag of nerves, running different scenarios though my mind – a constant reel of what ifs! But, the moment I took step onto that platform and got into the first pose (five minutes to warm up), I felt incredible, empowered, strong and beautiful.
“I fixed my eyes on the twinkling lights that surrounded the space and they lulled me into a mediative state. I listened to the sound of pencils and quiet concentration, eyes looking up at me and back down to the blank canvas, pictures of my body and tattoos slowly forming on the pages. I thought about how my body might look through the eyes of everyone in front of me, during one pose I focused on a determined looking woman who seemed lost in the movements of her pencil. A few brief moments of self-doubt flitted through my mind – what if I am not interesting enough to draw? – but they soon dissipated when I realised everyone surrounding me was creating their own interpretation of me.
“The evening consisted of a few short standing postures and some longer (25 minutes) seated poses. As the night drew to a close, each of the artists lay their work onto the floor to share it with each other and the models… Looking at each work of art, I realised I have grown very fond of my body as it has become more covered with tattoos. I have taken ownership of my body by choosing where each tattoo goes, and I love my colourful skin. Over the past couple of years, I have also started exercising regularly and even ran a marathon! I love the fact that my body is fit and healthy, and that has boosted my confidence hugely. My thighs, for example, have always been a part of my body I have hated. I always think they are chunky, they have bumps and cellulite that no matter how much I exercise will not disappear. But they are mine, they are strong and that means they are beautiful.
“I saw that each person had drawn my body slightly differently, my curves slightly more or less rounded, in some I looked bigger and in some small. Everyone sees an object through their own eyes, putting on that object their own preferences. It was enlightening and uplifting to see that subjectivity about the form of my own body – no one is ever going to be as critical of it as myself.
“I walked away from the evening with renewed self confidence and a want to relive the experience. It felt like a true celebration of my naked self and at last a goodbye to any anxiety I had!”
Here’s some works of art created on the night: