From the end of June, in advance of the broadcast of the programmes, Artangel organised temporary drop-in life drawing classes in five locations across London – in the City, Soho, Covent Garden, Canary Wharf and Bloomsbury – and in four cities across the UK: Manchester, Bristol, Southampton and Glasgow. In a different location every lunch-time, a class appeared for just two hours and passers-by were invited to sit behind an easel, pick up a pencil and draw.
Life Class: Today’s Nude continued Kane’s often irreverent attempts at democratising the production and dissemination of art and culture by taking the nude life class model out of the rarified intimacy of the studio and transmitting it nationwide.
Image of drop-in class 29 June, Shoreditch. Photo: Chris Osburn
A drawing I started two weeks ago, and every day since I've worked on it, crept up on it to take it unaware, corrected it, erased it - it's a large charcoal drawing on thick paper - hidden it away, displayed it, reworked it, looked at it in a mirror, redrawn it, and today I think it's over. — John Berger
John Berger discusses drawing Maria Muñoz, recorded in July 2009.
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Image: John Berger in Life Drawing class, photographer: unknown.
Flickr is the world’s leading website for sharing photography and images. We've set up a group within it where you can upload the work you produce as you watch Life Class: Today’s Nude or attend the preceding drop-in classes.
If you've never used Flickr before, there are some pointers below. Otherwise, you can go straight to the site.
How does it work?
1. If you don’t have one already you need to create a Yahoo! and Flickr account, which you can do by clicking the relevant link at flickr.com. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes.
2. You’ll need to turn your work into a jpeg image by photographing it digitally or scanning it into your computer. When you upload your image, Flickr will compress it automatically to a standard size, but you should still use your scanner/camera settings to keep the image size below around 6Mb.
3. Log into your Flickr account and upload your work by clicking the ‘Upload Photos & Video’ link*.
4. Finally you need to join the group itself and add your images to the 'pool'. The url is http://www.flickr.com/groups/lifeclass. Click the link saying 'Join this group', agree to the rules, then add your image/s by clicking 'Add photos or video'.
*Tag your images as you see fit, but if your drawing is from the TV programme, please indicate the relevant episode by making sure you include one consisting of the surname of the artist who presented it. So for Maggi Hambling the tag is simply “hambling”. The full list of presenters is John Berger, Judy Purbeck, Maggi Hambling, Gary Hume and Humphrey Ocean - so the tags are berger, purbeck, hambling, hume and ocean. If, however, your work is from a drop-in life class, please tag it simply 'dropin' plus something (ie 'soho' or 'londongraphiccentre') indicating where the class took place.
Image: Judy Purbeck in Life Class by Alan Kane, 2009. Photographer: unknown.
At the end of each programme you see a drawing or a painting that hadn't existed 30 minutes before. You may even, if Kane has his way, feel compelled to put down the remote control and draw the model yourself while you're watching. — Louise France, The Observer, 21 June 2009
"Although known for his conceptual work, such as his collaboration with the Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller, Mr Kane said what inspired him to become an artist was life drawing and he has mourned its diminished popularity. 'It has definitely come off the agenda at art school,' he said. — Mark Hughes, The Independent, 13 April 2009.
Discovering what the viewer's efforts will look like isn't a key motivation for Kane - though there'll be an opportunity to post your drawing up on the website. He's more interested in setting up a situation where the rarified atmosphere of the life room is brought into the living room, and beyond - and in this sense Life Class ties in with Kane's best-known work, Folk Archive, the ongoing project he and Jeremy Deller initiated in 2000 which, gathering together strange objects, rituals and pastimes from around the country, deliberately blurs the boundaries between 'high' and 'low', amateur and professional, popular and conceptual art. — Martin Coomer, Hotline, June 2009.
Life Class is groundbreaking television – not just because of the nudity (interestingly there are no UK laws against nudity on TV at any time of day, as long as it isn’t in a sexual context), but also because of the interactive nature of the programme. The brainchild of contemporary artist Alan Kane, in collaboration with the arts commissioning organisations Artangel and Jerwood, the series is intended to democratise culture and create, as Kane puts it, an 'interesting new space' for TV. — Rebecca Rose, Financial Times, 20 June 2009.
I’m sitting in front of a large and naked woman named Lucy who is lying in a foetal position on the floor of a Victorian art gallery in north London. I have spent the past 40 minutes trying to capture both the exact curve of Lucy’s fleshy backside, in charcoal on the paper I’ve got propped on my knees, and, with a putty eraser, the way that the light is falling on her upper buttock. So engrossed have I become in this effort that I have long forgotten the reason I am here: to observe the atmosphere of a life class, and to get a sense of the curious relationship of model to amateur artist. Who wants to take notes, though, when you can draw? — Tim Adams, The New Statesman, 25 June 2009.
In advance of the Channel 4 broadcasts of Life Class: Today's Nude, Artangel organised free drop-in life drawing classes in London, Glasgow, Bristol, Manchester and Southampton. All classes ran from noon until 2pm, with half-hourly admission and places allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
Mondays 22 and 29 June 2009
Shoreditch Town Hall
380 Old Street
London EC1V 9LT
Tuesdays 23 and 30 June 2009
The House of St Barnabas
1 Greek Street
London W1D 4NQ
Wednesdays 24 June and 1 July 2009
The London Graphic Centre
16–18 Shelton Street
London WC2H 9JL
Thursdays 25 June and 2 July 2009
17 Dukes Road
London WC1H 9PY
Fridays 26 June and 3 July 2009
11 Francis Street
London SW1P 1DE
Wednesday 24 June 2009
Glasgow School of Art
Renfrew St Entrance
Glasgow G3 6RQ
0141 353 4500
Wednesday 1 July 2009
113 Cumberland Road
Bristol BS1 6UX
0117 929 2266
Thursday 2 July 2009
Whitworth Art Gallery
University of Manchester
Manchester M15 6ER
0161 275 7450
Saturday 4 July 2009
John Hansard Gallery
University of Southampton
Southampton SO17 1BJ
023 8059 2158
Image: Maria David at Maggi Hambling's drop-in life drawing class, part of Life Class, June 2009. Photograph: Chris Osburn
Born in Nottingham, Alan Kane lives and works in London. He has had numerous solo exhibitions including The Stratford Hoard at Stratford Station as part of TfL's Art on the Underground series (2008), Steam Powered Internet Machine in collaboration with Jeremy Deller at Turner Contemporary, Margate (2006) and Folk Archive in collaboration with Jeremy Deller at New Art Gallery, Walsall.
He has also exhibited at Aberystwyth Arts Centre; The Lowry, Salford; Kunsthalle Basel; Barbican Centre; Milton Keynes Gallery and Spacex Gallery, Exeter. His group exhibitions include Amateurs, CCA Wattis, San Francisco (2008) and Among the Ash Heaps and Millionaires, Ancient & Modern (2006).
Images: Life Class Drop In Session in Covent Garden, Soho, 23 June 2009 (left). Photograph: Chris Osburn; Portrait of the artist Alan Kane, 2009 (above). Photograph: Jessica Mallock
Who made this possible?
Life Class: Today’s Nude was conceived by artist Alan Kane, commissioned and produced for Channel 4 by Artangel as part of the Jerwood/Artangel Open. The programmes were commissioned by Jan Younghusband, Commissioning Editor for Arts and Performance, Channel 4. The commission was supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Artists’ materials for the ‘pop-up’ life drawing classes supplied by London Graphic Centre.