N is for nudity!

Serpent and Apple

 

One strong memory of my time at Art school was life drawing classes. There was the atmosphere, a fraught, tense stifling atmosphere, filled with deep concentration, you felt as if you were in a library or in a sacred church. The student’s eyes were fixed on the model, nobody spoke much, if at all,  there were unwritten rules of how somebody should behave in this environment. Students would be religiously measuring proportions of the life model with their pencils. The tradition of using a model in drawing classes goes back hundreds of years.

What of the life model’s perspective? It’s undeniable  we live in a society where nudity is a big deal and does have a stigma.  The first time a model poses in front of a bunch of strangers, it must be very daunting…when it reaches the critical point when the Art teacher says “ok can you take your robe off”. This all sounds totally ridiculous, we all undress every night, it is totally natural…

Imagine in this day and age in the western world  a “fat” competition! Men from the Bodi tribe pride themselves in being fat and  consequently they drink a mixture of blood and goat’s milk to fatten up quickly and win the “fat contest” in their village. The winner is not awarded a prize but is afforded a heroes status for the rest of their lives.

One group of people who liked to flaunt their naked bodies were the hippies, in the 1960s. The West Coast America chose nudity to make  a political statement. Nudity in public became a form of protest, challenging social norms and supposedly conservative, constraining ideas of‘decency’. It was also liberating.

Have you ever had a dream whereby you find yourself the only naked person in a public place filled with clothed people? Apparently it is quite common dream. Dreaming that you are completely or partially naked is very common. Nudity symbolizes a variety of things depending on your real life situation. Becoming shocked at the realization that you are naked in public, apparently reflects your vulnerability or feelings of shamefulness. You may be hiding something and are afraid that others can see right through you.

I come from the UK,  a country known for its prudishness, the origin of this down to the the Puritans, or Queen Victoria by comparison across the channel, continental Europe has a more relaxed attitude towards nudity, I remember a place outside Vienna where everyone (apart from us Brits) was stark naked and thought nothing of this. Even Catholic Spain is less offended by breasts on the beach than Britain. You couldn’t enter a sauna in Austria or Germany wearing clothes. This bodily shame can be traced back to Christianity’s formation of the doctrine of original sin. Nudity, and nude photos, is the ultimate test of self-acceptance. Do you love yourself enough that you can go all the way?

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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A is for Art and Art School.

A finished

I don’t remember the exact moment I decided to go to Art School.  I hated school so much my only refuge was the Art Room.  There were only a few artists in a school that was mostly filled with aspiring military types and future business types.  There was an artist called Jonathon Land,  who painted in the style of Salvador Dali. The artist that influenced me the most at the time was Wassily Kandinsky and his geometrical works.  

My first Art School was Eastbourne,  where I did a “Foundation Course” . Here I was to encounter not only a wonderful group of  students but also a an Art Tutor called Martin.  Martin’s teaching technique was to freak out us students.  He would occasionally use words to psyche us out, but often it would  be the silent treatment, frowns or disdaining looks, as his eyes surveyed our efforts to produce art of some kind of merit.  His method was to test our resolve, to see if we had what it took to get into another college to do a degree.

One thing I discovered while at Art College was that Art Tutors were often flawed characters as well as being alcoholics. There was one tutor at Wimbledon, where I  did an MA in printmaking who would traipse in late reeking  of alcohol.  Another  I recall when I was at Art School, in Cheltenham used to smoke nonstop, his hand would be twitching, he had all the hall marks of an alcoholic.  For many years I regretted my time at Art College,  as it led to a lack of career, no rewarding jobs.  I flitted from one job to another, until I landed in teaching.  Later on I began to cherish the time I spent at Art College, and some of the other students who I met along the way.  I realized that Art School  played a big part in the formation of my life and art a big resource for me.

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This article is part of a blogging challenge,

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/sign-ups-for-2016-to-z-blogging.html

follow me on Twitter

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