It's a Knockout by David Mace
I believe that all people approach experience from their own preconceptions. We as artists, come to life-drawing sessions having pretty well rehearsed in our minds what our response is going to be, particularly when we have worked from the model previously. Our intentions will be already well informed.That is why working with Justin, our young and sadly only black model, was such a fresh and challenging experience. There was a special excitement and edge to our efforts - we were not able to follow the habitual procedures in dealing with light, tone, colour and form. All had to be discovered and explored anew. This effort was sustained to the end without the falling away of endeavour that so often happens as we and the model get tired. I don't know how many times on previous occasions I have felt I had lost my grip with the piece of work as the session concluded but this time, although I had problems, the contact was maintained.
I found Tom's work very interesting in its evolution. It was as if Justin was an inspiration which enabled Tom to immediately, without hesitation, take the experience away into the realms of his own creative functioning with a great freedom and authority. He had made a dynamic connection which set Justin free from the restrictions of his pose. The figure was skewed, off balance and in movement. I was reminded of Tom's earlier metaphysical compositions with their tormented figures occupying their own world. Tom wrote of his work as "…fluctuating from the literal to uncertainty…" " my paintings pose a series of questions or provocations…" This was the case with his depiction of Justin taken out of his real situation and given new significance. He later told me that he had acquired Justin as one of his latest series of 'figures on the beach' - a raw beachboy energy.
In their own ways this same transmuting process was reflected in Sandra's hacking away to give an almost primitive energy to the form, and with the poetic and meditative treatment by Emma. These images stand in their own right - released from the context of the life-room.
On the other hand there were those of us who elected to stay firmly objective in our approach, and no less worthy of appraisal. Roger's and Tony's drawings had a real intensity which lifted them to a heightened level. Lois and Fiona constructed strong plastic equivalents of their subject in their respective media. Chris, Joanne and myself endeavoured to substitute paint for flesh and reconstruct the real presence of Justin there in front of us. I would love to have seen what other regulars - Russell, Roger S. et al - would have made of it. However Justin is to make a further attendance on 3rd January so there is that to look forward to.
All in all - I thought the session was a knock-out - almost literally in my case after a final close encounter between my head and Tom's printing press.
Paintings, drawings and sculpture by Chris, David, Emma, Fiona, Joanne, Lois, Roger, Sandra, Tom and Tony.