The Drawing Circus
Alice Parsons got her sketchpad out at The Drawing Circus recently. Read all about it:
Rapunzel let down your hair, Briar Rose awaken, Rumplestiltskin dust off your breeches, sharpen your pencils and let the drawing begin. Composed of a company of artists, models and musicians, The Drawing Circus create and organize themed life-drawing events and I was lucky enough to attend the latest – this time inspired by the fairy tales of Grimm – at Brighton’s Sallis Benney theatre. So it was that armed with ample paper and ink I had set out on a journey to the enchanted forests of lore with the hope of creating a few decent drawings and the promise of making plenty of bum ones.
Soft smoke crawled across the theatre stage, a band of merry players improvised eerie flute led music. In the centre of the dark room Grimm’s forest waited, occupied by lithe nymphs, a gentleman wolf and a slightly saucier Red Riding Hood than children’s books would have you remember. Jake Spicer, a talented artist and ambassador of drawing took to the stage (dressed as a hobbit) to explain the day’s events. There would be five acts, each based upon a fairytale by Grimm. Life models in fantastical costume would undertake a series of long and short poses, moving about the space while we the audience would attempt to capture their likeness.
The battle for the best position was a tough one. Easels had been pre-booked and knowledgeable, organized types nabbed the front seats. However this was not a problem, many took to the floor and everybody got stuck in.
We were spoilt for choice. I would begin tracing the outline of a handsome prince, only to be seduced by a passing Nyad. My only frustration being that occasionally a spectacular pose would only last for five minutes, thwarting what might have been a good drawing. This I’m sure, is all part of Spicer’s plan.
“The Drawing Circus has grown over the last two years from collaborations between all of the models, artists and musicians that attend or work at the life drawing sessions that I set up in 2009; the aim of the Drawing Circus is to add an extra edge of inspiration to regular life classes, creating a narrative of poses strung together by music written for the occasion,” says Spicer. “It’s been so exciting to watch it grow to the point where we can now bring in hundreds of people to draw and in the not so distant future we aim to take our circus on the road and create a travelling drawing troupe; right now it’s just nice to think that we’re probably the only life drawing class with its own resident costumier and composer!”
Interspersed with much needed 15 minute breaks, the drawing circus really puts you through your paces, from tentative line making to messy charcoal masterpieces. It is challenging but ultimately rewarding. At the end of the day, exhausted and covered in oil pastel smears, I looked back through my work (badly rendered hands and wonky faces included) and felt a warm glow of achievement and pride.
Review by Alice Parsons. Photos: Anna Gibson