Thursday, 12 February 2015

Unsung heroines.

                             
                                              

Oh how I loved my life models. Big bouncy blondes, who took their clothes off for peanuts-per-hour. The nicest thing about them was that they were proud of who they were and what they did, and were prepared to demonstrate as much.

And there was I, 2B pencil in hand, scratching away, trying to learn my trade. I hardly noticed them; they were simply objects to be drawn, not living breathing humans with complex lives.

They were 'things' that one studied in minute detail before even placing a dot on that virgin white paper. It was all fraught with danger, and we were reminded as much by so-called bloody experts who couldn't draw a bloody fly; our tutors.

                                  

The poor creatures were mostly penniless 'resting' actresses.Young women who, like Micawber, were permanently waiting for something to turn up. They appeared like a latter-day Rita Tushingham in A Taste of Honey.

Most of them would have pleased Rubens more than Mary Quant. They were buxom, stretch-marked, sagging lovelies, who were far more interesting to draw than Twigs or Shrimpton.

I imagine they are all now retired to dreary bed-sits in Eastbourne or Pevensey, and I salute them. I send them kisses and my thanks. They formed me, they made me what I am today, they gave their time so that I could forever-after scribble.


22 comments:

  1. Lucky you. At my art school we had to make do with a skinny, mature lady with more wrinkles than John Gray's bulldog. No guys, ever!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of our male models regularly appeared on Top of the Pops (dancing).

      Delete
  2. We had a little old man known as naked Jack!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I expect he had less printable names too.

      Delete
  3. I dont know if it is realy true, but if it is , it's never too late.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh Cro, we can do better than that for these ladies, surely? One is well known in the business as a steady character actress, another got a job on a cruise ship and spent her life overdosed on calm and ozone somewhere sunny, yet another met her prince and lives in domestic suburban bliss...

    ReplyDelete
  5. If only that were so, Andi; but I think I might be right. The male models were probably more successful later on in life. They were mostly gay extroverts, and were more ambitious. I imagine they ended up as theatre staff, antique dealers, or film extras. Who knows!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dead from Aids. Sad but likely. I saw a photo of four hairdressers from the 1980s in my city, all famous personalities through their work and their night jobs as DJs in some really fashionable night clubs. Every one dead of Aids. So sad.

      Delete
    2. What a dreadful thought. One forgets how rampant it was.

      Delete
  6. Well Cro - I am one of those models at Art School which you talk of and I certainly don't fit into your mould!! I posed the first time because my boy friend (later my first husband) asked me to when the model rang in to say she couldn't be there. I quite enjoyed it and so stood in in the futured whenever anyone called off at the last minute. I must say once I got used to it I quite enjoyed it - it was always a bit scary when the tutor pulled somebody out of the class and got them to come and have a closer look. The tutor incidentally was Toni Bartl, whose drawing you so admired on my wall the other week. So maybe that class was the exception.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I almost knew this would happen! You do realise (I hope) that I was jesting?

      Delete
  7. This one will get tom Stephenson's juices going

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ah, but they all became immortal in your's and other's drawings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if THEY thought about that?

      Delete
  9. My son told us about one of the life model's tattoos - terrorist was one word inked on her.
    One day he saw one of them whilst he was walking around campus, he wasn't sure whether to say hello or not.
    He has mentioned how hard it must be for them to hold a pose for so long. He certainly appreciated them.

    Helen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they enjoyed the short poses the most... it gave them a bit of 'scratching time'.

      Delete
  10. Reading ChurnDash above reminded me of the old joke
    which went the rounds in the old days about one of the artists meeting the model in the street. She spoke to him and he is reported to have said, "Sorry I ignored you but I didn't recognise you with your clothes on." (you probably fell out of your cradle laughing at that joke).
    One of the other models at that time in the class I went to was the daughter of the leading ice cream maker in the area - certainly not on the bread-line either. But you are probably right about a lot of them Cro. I suppose it brings into question why they were actually doing the job.

    ReplyDelete
  11. We had a husband and wife team. They never posed together and we would wonder which of the pair it would be at each session. One day the woman who was very tall and quite broad too started to sway. the lecturer who was small asked if she was okay whence she fell forward onto him in a faint as if she had been felled. The poor man was completely covered by this woman. She took some pulling off him I can tell you.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm lucky I can draw stick people and have someone recognise it. My former neighbour is an artist and spoke about some of the models who sat in some of the classes she had. I wondered at how she viewed them as simply something to draw and not living beings.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a beautifully written post. Almost art in itself.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...