Bog standard life drawing classes are so over. In London it's all about the theme! Art Macabre specialise in the eerie and the morbid at their Death Drawing sessions (see what they did there?). This particular session was held at the appropriately named Deadhouse at Somerset House, a spooky cavern that you access through long gloomy passageways.
On arrival we were given prosecco (yes!) and had the chance to wander round the spooky surroundings. Somerset House once was the scene of decadent Stuart and Restoration masques, and Art Macabre had tried to capture haunted echoes of theatrical revels past.
We were treated to the beautiful operatic voice of punk Baroque singer Carmen Mon Oxide, pictured here with her skeleton baby. A creepy prop, but not as creepy as the hanging baby dolls!
Carmen herself morphed into one of the three dead queens we would be drawing. One of her poses involved her cradling said boney baby. An eerie silence descended as James I entered (completely naked) along with his wife, Anne of Denmark, and they glided through the space.
Another element that set this life drawing class apart was the fact it was a promenade. Each of the queens, and the one king, were in different spaces, and we got a turn drawing each one. We were split into four groups and assigned to a velvet-robed guide. We didn't catch the name of our guide so we called him Ghost-Guide all night. He didn't seem to mind. At one point we lost him, and it was as if he had literally walked through a wall… We were drinking though.
As we sat (or stood) to draw each historical figure, one of the Art Macabre team came round and told us how this particular king or queen contributed to the debauchery and theatrics at Somerset House masques. They sounded like a right rowdy, kinky bunch. I loved the naked Anne of Denmark who wore six inch Vivienne Westwood heels (in nude, natch) along with gorgeous silver hair piled up high and a massive lace ruffle collar. In reality she is the stunning model Alex B.
As someone who cannot draw to save my life I really appreciated a.) how dark it was so no one could see my poor excuses for pictures, and b.) how little time we had with each model, as there was really nothing I could add to my simple pencil lines. I know that some of my more artistic companions wanted a bit more time to complete their shading and what not. Play some Tony Hart style background music as you look through a few of the finished pictures. Mine are the final laughable three, the rubbish ones. That being said, I am weirdly proud of the foot I drew next to the man. Feet are hard to draw, even for real artists.
The atmosphere was really fun, and the space was suitably macabre (there are real headstones in the walls dating back to the 1600's). A leaky roof added supernatural dripping sounds, and it was suggested that we think of this as dripping blood. Lovely. At the end we laid our pictures on the ground and had a good look, like a bunch of bemused art historians. Our ghost guide disrobed and we saw that he was just a man of flesh and blood after all, and I later found out that he is cake maker Aaron Jacob Jones. He is also one heck of an artist, each of his pictures were outstanding. If you want an evening of drawing with a difference, check out Art Macabre's events. Their next one has a James Bond theme; it would be interesting to see how they make that eerie. Insert your own pussy galore life drawing joke.