“I had forgotten what an intense pleasure just practising life drawing is, the feeling of the charcoal on the paper, the dance of the physical and the mental, the moment when it flows…” AA Gill in The Sunday Times Magazine December 30 2012
If you picked up the Sunday Times on December 30th you might have seen this cover story in the magazine as it slipped out from between the pages of the sports, travel and business sections. Journalist and former art student AA Gill hadn’t drawn a nude for 30 years when he brought ten artists together for an afternoon of life drawing at the Royal College of Art and reported on the experience for the Sunday Times. What better way to inaugurate our new Drawing in the Media series, in which we bring you bite-sized excerpts from stories we’ve spotted in print and online?
“I had forgotten how much I once wanted this to be my whole life and how much I missed it, and the grief when I made the decision to give up because I found something else I did better but loved less.” AA Gill
Ten other artists took part by invitation: Michael Frith, portrait artist for The Sunday Times; Emma Sergeant, figurative painter and former royal tour artist for Prince Charles; Charlotte Mann, mural artist who teaches at The Princes Drawing School; Frieda Peppercorn, student in textiles and fashion at Winchester School of Art; Gerald Scarfe, cartoonist for The Sunday Times; Gary, cartoon illustrator for The Sunday Times and Daily Mail; Polly Morgan, sculptor working with taxidermy; Cristina Planas, fine art student at The Slade; Jon-Paul McCarthy, caricaturist; and Giles Deacon, fashion designer.
Pal Hansen was the session photographer, and for the insets about individual artists (see above and below) Clare Conway wrote the copy and Kevin Dutton photographed the drawings.
“Life drawing is to painting what singing scales is to opera.”
“Beside me, Polly draws a small man surrounded by an expanse of empty paper…Frieda’s figures overflow the page, Giles draws simple, beautiful, fluid indications and impressions of a man on his flickering screen. Emma draws over her previous drawings, over and over, turning the page around, burying the image to reveal a reborn image. She ends up with a striking head that has consumed four or five bodies.”
“The concentration in the room is like an exam or a communion.”
“Contemporary artists have lost contact with art’s defining mission, along with an ability to physically make art. It has become a process as opposed to a skill, an obtuse game of words, catalogue notes and jargon-choked articles mediated by gallerists and professional art explainers.”
“Staring at a nude provokes profound questions about our humanity, the profound questions that should be at the heart of all art.”
Editor’s note: See you in the life room!