Suki the life-modelArt & Life2. Life-drawing: spiritual, not sexy?


2. Life-drawing: spiritual, not sexy? — 1 Comment

  1. These were the 35 Responses from the original blog. They have been copied here to the newly revised website. However, unfortunately some of the original comments contained images that have sadly been lost. It is possible to add further comments below.

    1. Suki says:
    May 4, 2012 at 10:03 am
    The music is only on the home page, and you might need to wait a few seconds for it to download… By the way I am having a CHAMPAGNE MOMENT this morning – SUe Vickerman and I have just had our joint poetry collection accepted for publication – wey hey! THIN BONES LIKE WISH-BONES, due out 2013 with Indigo Dreams… Happy Friday everybody!
    ◦ Rev Rachel Wilson says:
    May 5, 2012 at 9:31 am
    Wow..congratulations to you both..fantastic news xx
    2. Rev Rachel Wilson says:
    May 4, 2012 at 9:56 am
    good to read..missed the music. I realised the speakers were turned off..doh!.. but still no music
    3. Jan Fortune says:
    May 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm
    Fantastic musings, Suki – and such exciting work
    4. Fran Rhys says:
    May 5, 2012 at 7:29 am
    Great to hear that another poetry collection has been accepted for publication. Wow. My fave to date is “Shag” and there are lines in there I can quote. I want to show the gallery of drawings to my 82 year old mum. She remembers as a child life models coming to the house. I like the mix of body sizes represented (but is it right off to say that?), and of course the whole variety of art. What a fantastic gallery. Anyway, “right off” doesn’t seem to feature on this website. That’s Suki for you.
    ◦ Suki says:
    May 26, 2012 at 9:37 pm
    Hi Fran, thanks for the compliment re SHAG. You didn’t explain (for the benefit of anyone reading this) what I happen to know, which is that your mother’s parents were artists. Otherwise how mysterious to have a line of life-models entering the house… (-: Where do life models go when they are not modelling? Do they all live together in a big commune?
    Just wait – I am sure I will manage to be thoroughly right-off at some point and massively offend hundreds of people. Well okay, up to seven people (those who actually read this blog).
    5. David Thomas says:
    May 6, 2012 at 9:38 am
    I am amazed that you have such wonderful recall of our conversation but my vanity is intensely tickled that you have both recalled and seen fit to publish that bit (which actually makes sense doesn’t it?) and surprised I’m not reduced to a foetal ball of shameful self-consciousness.
    It did occur to me last night that you are significantly shifting the creative focus from the artist and towards the model- sort of changing the subject/object axis (I’ll stop before I start bullshitting) and hope that will continue with the planned reading/performance thing you’re getting going with Helen
    I’ll try and get a thicker curtain
    ◦ Suki says:
    May 6, 2012 at 6:43 pm
    Re ‘shifting the creative focus from the artist towards the model’ – yes yes yes, ME ME ME. WHO’S IMPORTANT IN THIS ROOM? ME – moi – MYSELF – I
    As to the Oct 5th 2012 launch of A SMALL LIFE – yes, it will be a piece of performance art. Lou (aka Helen Peyton) and me. She, artist and thespian doing the reading; me, unclothed model doing the series of 3-minute poses that correspond to the text she’ll be reading out. I ended up doing sort of ‘performance art’ at the Delius Arts Centre in Bradford last week. They are so bohemian there. Not just any old life drawing class, they had to have Derek Jarman’s final film ‘Blue’ playing at the same time, the movie that’s just a blue screen with a voice-over of his reflections on art and life. I obeyed Douglas Thompson’s order (what could I do, I wanted to get paid… (-: ) to stand in front of the screen – hence I was partially blue – and ‘respond to the movie with a series of short poses’. I endeavoured to strike up various positions of physical and mental anguish. Basically acting out Derek Jarman dying of AIDS.
    6. gerard says:
    May 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm
    re: spiritual not sexy. it can be both. the spiritual and the sensual/sexual belong together – are not enemies. the division, especially in christian tradition, has been very repressive i feel. x.
    ◦ Suki says:
    May 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm
    I agree Gerard.
    But acknowledging an explicitly sexual aspect to the dynamic going on in the life room is the biggest taboo. The word ‘sensual’ can be got away with.
    ▪ gerard says:
    May 9, 2012 at 9:34 am
    the history of artists and their models is against you! however, my son-in law is a portrait artist. he painted a woman whose gaze was bold , her legs wide open . we teased him but he claimed, and i believed him, that he did not notice her seductive pose even though he captured it perfectly. and when i was chosing the images for my ‘of love and water’ collection there were no sexual/sensual feelings in me. it just seemed like a professional task. however i have a poem about hockney’s ‘mr. and mrs. clarke and percy’ which begins: ‘All art seduces someone.’ it is a wonderfully complex relationship. you say the ‘acknowledgement’ is taboo, not that the sexual is not there. unlike psychoanalysis where the acknowledgement is crucial, only the acting out is taboo. enough already.
    7. Nic Carlyle says:
    May 7, 2012 at 9:26 am
    Congratulations re. Thin Bones Like Wishbones. Re. the Miss Piggy moment – “me, me, me” – please remember to share the success with your co-writer and muse, Sue.
    8. Jun WU says:
    May 8, 2012 at 6:39 am
    Re: “Life modeling is me exposing my Self. That’s spiritual.” Suki’s world might remind me of taking a holiday to some place for exposing my self and life. Thank you, Suki.
    ◦ Suki says:
    May 8, 2012 at 7:01 am
    Hi Jun, thanks for commenting! Ray Xu emailed me that everyone else in China is too busy “making ******ing money” to have time to look at websites. All work no play. You all need that holiday.
    9. Fae Lendor says:
    May 9, 2012 at 9:34 am
    Awesome article and right to the point. I am not sure if this is in fact the best place to ask but do you people have any idea where to get some professional writers? Thanks in advance
    ◦ admin says:
    May 9, 2012 at 8:14 pm
    Are there any professional writers reading this? If so, Fay (above) wants to ‘get some’, I know not why. Intriguing. Her email is
    Or are you Mrs Spam, Fay?
    10. Mike Smith says:
    May 18, 2012 at 2:41 am
    Woh I like your content , saved to my bookmarks ! .
    11. chris murray says:
    June 3, 2012 at 7:49 pm
    I think the questions of relationship, both ways, could be better addressed by looking at the work . The better it is the clearer questions of relationship will be.
    Sex is a spiritual thing.
    The life drawing classes i attend are never conducive to sexual thoughts about the model. Most present the model in a clinical way with a tendncy to confused lighting. Any sexual thoughts about the model are dispelled by the terror of making some kind of artistic sense of what is infront of me. Or rather the horror of not making sense of it.
    12. Suki says:
    June 4, 2012 at 7:43 pm
    Thanks for this Chris, which is unlike any other contributions in that it expresses a PURELY TECHNICAL approach to the task in hand.
    The terror and the horror: wow, you put yourself under some stress!
    ◦ chris murray says:
    June 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm
    thanks for rsponding Sue. What would you call the other responses?
    ▪ suki says:
    July 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm
    Re the other responses, Chris: I would say they are multifarious, wouldn’t you? Much has been said about sensuality, spirituality, sexuality…
    13. Nic Carlyle says:
    May 16, 2013 at 4:24 pm
    Re “Later, Hilda’s five year-old, Flo, reprovingly crayoned a skirt and jumper over my body-parts”: […see Noticeboard on page 2 of A SMALL LIFE to know what Nic is referring to. ADMIN] Sheesh, everyone’s a critic! Obviously there’s something in the five-year old mind that has a different response other than those of “sensuality, spirituality, sexuality…”
    ◦ Nic Carlyle says:
    May 17, 2013 at 9:22 pm
    …Or was she concerned that you were cold?
    ▪ Lois Brothwell says:
    May 20, 2013 at 12:29 am
    I think she was concerned and wanted to make Suki comfortable.
    And note how stylish and daring the illustrated attire is – the type any young, trim, emancipated woman would sport.
    I think young Flo analysed the situation carefully and provided Suki with what she thought would make her feel good, both physically and psychologically.
    Female empathy starts early.
    14. Pat says:
    May 19, 2013 at 10:11 am
    Congratulations on your first book of poetry! You’re a writer, really.
    15. Suki says:
    May 19, 2013 at 10:36 am
    Thank you for the congratulations Pat.
    Actually my joint collection with Sue Vickerman, THIN BONES LIKE WISH-BONES, will be my second collection, my first, KUNST, having come out earlier this year.
    And for Sue Vickerman this will be her third poetry collection, after SHAG (Arrowhead Press 2003) and THE SOCIAL DECLINE OF THE OYSTERCATCHER (Biscuit Publishing 2005).
    Then there’s my novel, short stories, articles, blog… Writer? Yes – that’s what has been on my tax return for the last decade and a half. This modelling lark is just an add-on.
    ◦ pat says:
    May 19, 2013 at 1:28 pm
    Congratulations then, on the latest addition to a growing body of published work!!
    ▪ Suki says:
    May 19, 2013 at 1:34 pm
    Fanx (-:
    16. Fran says:
    May 21, 2013 at 8:16 pm
    I really like the EFL / ESOL language notes with Suki’s serialised story, A Small Life. What a fantastic, and inclusive idea.
    Despite her self-deprecation, Suki’s mind is just bursting with ideas; the websites are a wonder to behold!
    ◦ Admin says:
    May 21, 2013 at 8:27 pm
    Thank you, Fran, for approving of the EFL language notes. Suki is champing at the bit to advertise her serial to non-native-English-speakers, but due to some still-to-be-ironed-out glitches on the new homepage (eg ‘start from the beginning’ does not currently, in fact, link to Page 1 – Aaagh… says Suki), we cannot do this.
    ▪ Nic Carlyle says:
    May 23, 2013 at 6:44 am
    Yeah, but the Braille version might be a bit more difficult.
    That’s just a cheap shove-in to moan about difficult positions to draw a pose from, and to grouse about who hogs the best spots in life-drawing sessions. Here’s why… (attached)

    • Suki says:
    May 23, 2013 at 9:02 am
    I fink you done good here Nic.
    Terrible thing about that model’s foot amputation though. Having to go out on the streets life-modelling, after all those years as a professional footballer.
    ◦ Nic Carlyle says:
    May 23, 2013 at 11:41 am
    Have kept the foot; looks good as a keyring fob; no trouble locating my keys now. (The **** had her foot under the cover)
    17. Francis says:
    July 28, 2013 at 6:53 pm
    According to the dictionary that I checked, spiritual (adj.) is of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things (I will not address the religious definition).
    So you might say there’s a spiritual vs materialistic dichotomy involved. To me that makes sense. When I life model I strip away, literally and metaphorically, materialistic notions; I really do have ‘nothing to wear’. I think the effect of that is to make any thoughts of pretension impossible. I have nowhere to hide, there’s just me, warts, bunions and all. I shatter what for some is a taboo; I defy any innate and/or learnt inhibitions. I don’t feel ‘sexy’.
    What is curious is that from that vulnerability I find strength. It’s a liberating, freeing experience, I can only be whom and what I am. I’m free of all the usual concerns, I don’t need to do much. Ok, I need to adopt a pose I can hold for however minutes, and think what I’ll do for the next one. And ideally I will choose poses that are interesting, sometimes challenging, to draw, though of course that’s not my problem.
    In that room the organiser, model and each artist come together, each with their different but partially overlapping agendas, a bit like a Venn diagram. In the overlap is the situation where an artist uses her/ his ability, skill, materials and effort to transform a naked figure into a nude representation. No two images are ever quite the same.
    I don’t really know why they are there, drawing/ painting me, just as they don’t really know, or care, why I’m there, or who or what I am. I guess that’s all part of the exchange, the unwritten contract. They draw or paint for their purposes, I pose for mine. I get paid, not much, but I get to see images of me that always fascinate me. It means that, over time, not only do the artists make their marks, but I make my mine. I, they, made an impression. I existed, I was there. Some of those images may be around for a long time, some might not. But in that time slot, that nexus, art is created and life’s concerns are put on hold.
    And all that, I think, is a good thing.
    18. Suki says:
    July 28, 2013 at 9:34 pm
    I can completely go with this, Francis. Thanks for this contribution.
    On the other hand, on another day when I get out of bed the other side, I could describe the dynamics of that room quite differently. Because actually I find that not all life rooms are the same. Different personalities are actually getting up to different things in there. And relating to me in quite diverse and even contradicting ways.

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