"Insane confidence" - nude models speak of the liberating benefits as life drawing returns to Sheffield

Life models and artists in Sheffield are looking forward to getting back into the studio after lockdown restrictions eased and in person drawing classes can finally return.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 3:29 pm
Victoria has been life modeling for nine years and finds the experience liberating.

A life drawing class in Crookes which had been running for 15 years closed during the first lockdown, but is now reopening thanks to one of the artists who attended it.

Matt Smith first joined the class in 2010, and wants to keep it running because of the many benefits that he has found through life drawing.

Matt said: “It’s very good for mindfulness, I find it very meditative and cathartic. After the pandemic there is a need for that.

An impression of life model Geoff, who says that he feels more nervous walking into a swimming pool than modeling at a class.

"The classes provide access to art and culture."

Those who attend life drawing classes, both as artists and models, find in them tools that they can take into their everyday life.

Geoff has been involved with the classes as an artist and a model and believes that it has been a great way to meet people and boost his confidence.

He said: “People in the art world I find are friendly and they make you feel welcome. I’ve got friends across the world through doing this.

An artist's impression of life model, Geoff.

“They encouraged me. I started off drawing stick men, I never did any art at school - I came to it as a blank canvas.

"These guys are talking about Leonardo and Michelangelo, and I thought they were turtles.”

“Life is not about the end result, it’s about the process. You look for the positives in your art and take that into life as well.

"It gives me liberation, it’s about not being afraid to fail. I was no good at it but over the years I have got people who have my art on their walls.

One of Geoff's works. He says he is learning all the time.

It has helped me from a mental health point of view and it’s given me a passion that I never realised I had.”

After getting involved as an artist, Geoff then began working as a life model, and during lockdown modelled online for people around the world, from Hong Kong to Colombia.

He added: “Modelling the first time was daunting. I was with a group and I had been going for a year or so and the model didn’t turn up.

“I heard a voice say, ‘I will do it’, and it was me.

“I have a bit of a body issue, so this was part of a step to get over that.

“I get really bad nerves and anxiety, I had a lack of confidence, but this has given me insane confidence.

"People at work remarked that I changed so much. I was promoted.

“The artists made me feel at ease and welcome. It didn’t feel awkward, it is very empowering.

"I feel more self conscious walking into a swimming pool than into a life drawing class to model. Artists aren’t really looking at me, they see dark shades, negative space, they’re not judging your body.”

Victoria Bellingham, who is also a life model and is helping her friend to run classes at Anomaly Life Drawing in Neepsend, explained why she got involved.

She said: “I had been in some bad relationships and just wanted to feel in charge of my own body again. It’s quite a liberating space.

"Everybody is accepting and it’s unsexualised. There is definitely a friendly atmosphere and it’s very supportive.

“The morning of the first time I modelled I was just thinking ‘What on earth am I doing?’

"But everyone was very friendly and then it was the moment when you have to take off your dressing gown in front of everyone.

“I run classes now too. I tell all the models that everyone is expecting to see you naked so there’s nothing dramatic about it.

“People sometimes apologise when they have drawn something wonky, but its always really nice to see someone’s interpretation. I have never been offended by a drawing.

“I was pregnant during lockdown and I really wanted to life model while pregnant. Maybe I’ll have another chance in the future.

“I am looking forward to getting back to doing it in person. It’s not the same online, the whole atmosphere is gone.”

Matt’s life drawing class returns to Crookes Social Club on August 1, form 11am-1pm, and tickets can be purchased here.

More information about about Anomaly Life Drawing can be found here.