We’ve all experienced the same nightmare, standing in a room full of strangers realising you are stripped naked, baring all to a scrutinizing audience, but for Olive* this is how she spent one afternoon on a stage in the union for a bit of extra cash.
After attending the MUSEA’s fortnightly life drawing class I was intrigued to find out how it feels to submit yourself to such intimate examination for 90 minutes, all in the name of art. “It’s actually quite meditative,” Olive explains, “at the initial moment I have a lot going around my head, mainly worried that I’ll see someone I know, but watching the crowd and the rhythmic sea-wave of heads going up and down, by the end my mind goes quiet.”
I point out that there are other ways to make money and they don’t necessarily involve taking your clothes off, she laughs and says “I love to do things that scare me and I’ve always had a strange relationship with my body, in fact it was a boost of confidence.” I tell her I imagine it to be quite an empowering experience and she agrees, “Life drawing is a practice that has an established historical basis and having tried it myself I understand the way in which the body is looked at. It’s seen as a shape, something aesthetic to be drawn in a mathematical way; it’s important that the proportions are accurate to get it right.”
After the interview she had not only laid herself bare physically for the sake of art but she had divulged her personal thoughts as a life model too, thoughts that usually remain hidden even while her body is completely exposed, and for that reason I think we could all use a bit of her courage. Nevertheless, it seems anonymity is key as when I tell her one of the drawings will be printed next to the article she cries “As long as you can’t tell it’s me!”
*Name has been changed