The Ladywell Gallery is proud to announce an article has been published about Rosie, one of the models for our Life Drawing Class.
It’s a Thursday evening and as usual I’m standing in the smallish upstairs room of the Ladywell Gallery in south London. I’m pointing at a voluptuous, naked woman for the benefit of a room full of artists, both aspiring and experienced. I now consider 20-year-old English Lit student Rosie, the model, a friend – but it didn’t start the way most platonic friendships do. Two emails and a five-minute real-life convo later, she was shrugging off her dressing gown and leaning back for me to discuss the shadows under her nipples with a group of strangers.
What made you want to be a nude life model?
I like jobs that are a little different, which don’t get boring. I saw an advert for one so answered it really quickly and then didn’t hear back for a while. I later got a last minute message asking me to do it that evening because the booked model had pulled out, so I said ‘Yes’ before I could talk myself out of it.
What did the first time feel like?
Just before I took my robe off I was like ‘Oh god I’m going to be naked in front of a roomful of people’ but then within five minutes of actually doing it I felt fine and started to forget I was naked.
Doesn’t it make you feel self conscious?
It’s actually definitely improved my body confidence. I think it’s a really good way to see yourself. You’re naked in front of people who aren’t seeing you in a sexual way – you’re lines and shapes to them. I never feel as if the teacher is pointing at my naked body and inferring some kind of judgement. They’re looking at the shape of my hip or the curve of my arm. It’s all about how things line up in a picture.
How nerve-wracking is it to be naked in front of a room of people, looking in great detail at every bit of you?
I often feel that the new students are more nervous than I am! In a way I have the power. Sometimes I catch their eyes and they look away apologetically.
Do you ever feel like people are looking at you sexually?
So far I’ve always felt really safe in the class, and quite sure that everyone is just there to draw. If a creep turned up I’d trust the tutor to deal with the situation.
What about the end results – how is it to see the finished drawings?
Honestly, I don’t mind how people draw me. Everyone has a different style. They’re drawing me how they see me. It’s definitely less upsetting seeing a ‘bad’ drawing of myself in the life drawing class than it is seeing a bad photo of myself!
How do your family feel about you being naked all the time?
My friends find it really funny, and when I told my mum ‘I’ve started life modelling’ she just said ‘Of course you have’. She wasn’t exactly shocked.
Is your boyfriend cool with it?
It took me a while to let my boyfriend come along. I guess I thought it would be difficult letting someone I knew, who’d seen me naked in a different context, draw me. But eventually I cracked, as my boyfriend is a real art fan and was desperate to attend. In the end it was fine. He’s always been really supportive and appreciated that you can look at the female form in a non-sexual way. He’s never had a problem with me doing this.
OK, but how do you hold those poses for SO long, what about cramp?
During longer poses I sometimes try and meditate a bit. It’s interesting thinking about which muscles you engage in different positions. It’s definitely made me more aware of my body. You do need to practise poses at home though. Things that sound as if they should be comfortable often aren’t!