Draw is the name of the umbrella drawing organization under which a whole load of artists, models and tutors shelter to teach, learn and create. Draw grew out of the Brighton Life Drawing Sessions; we're like a little art school, except that it doesn't cost very much to join in. To learn more about the classes we run and what we've done in the past see the website for Draw: www.draw-brighton.co.uk
A History of Draw
My workspace in Unit 4.
May 2008 I move to Brighton for an exhibtion of my paintings at the Calico Gallery, I don't know anyone yet. In June I take on a tiny studio in Unit 4 Lvl 5 South, New England House and soon after I meet Antony Sheret, a passionate and talented designer recently dropped out of Brighton Uni to pursue his own career in graphic design. I have the idea to start a life drawing class as I cant afford to attend one myself, I post a Gumtree ad for models and create a blog. Ant and our seamstress studio-mate Emma Wreyford agree to move into a bigger unit (2 North Level 5) with me.
Nov 2008 I lay out my first ideas in the new blog:
‘Starting in January of 2009 The Brighton Life Drawing Sessions are a new endeavor from Brighton based painter and printmaker Jake Spicer (previously of the Calico Gallery, Brighton). Run at cost price the Sessions are a not-for-profit project intended to provide a friendly and inspiring environment for Brighton’s creative community to come together, share ideas and most importantly, draw. The Sessions will attempt to employ models engaged with the creative arts, helping to support all elements of our arts sectors in financially interesting times.’
The first life drawing studio
Jan 12th 2009 I hold the first life drawing studio in Unit 2 North, christened 'The Battery'. The studio set-up is funded out of sales of paintings from the year before added to a bit of Christmas money and built and decorated in the first weeks of January. I meet a dancer called Frankie Cluney, playwrite Zoe Hinks and the poet Rosy Carrick through life modelling.
Early 2009 Six people can draw at any time, the sessions are £9 per session for 2.5 hours and run four times a week. We can only run night time sessions and weekends as Emma has to move her pattern cutting table so we can fit the easels in. Edd Harrington moves in to the studio, joining Ant to create The Entente Cordial graphic design studio.
May 2009 The Entente design a website for me, including a section on the life classes and design me my own typeface 'Fortescue' named after the house that I used to live in in Devon. A version of Fortescue (the 'School' cut) is used on the first BLDS flyers, which change colour every month. A lovely group of regulars starts to develop, bought together by a common interest in drawing. After seeing Zoe Hink's play about a life model we agree to collaborate on a project that fuses drawing and theater; Frankie Cluney becomes our joint muse. Emma Sandham King a lingerie designer at Ophelia Fancy starts modelling for our regular classes.
October 2009 Classes continue in earnest and broaden in scope as popularity grows, Kate Genvieve recommends us to Donna Close who asks us to pitch for a place at the second White Night arts festival and we are awarded £500 to put on a free drawing event in the Komedia studio bar. Ian Lowe, a new male model, Emma, Zoe and Frankie offer to model and nine regulars from our life classes volunteer to help us run a Tarot Card themed, all night drawing session; Seawhite of Brighton provide paper and The Entente make bespoke brochures to be given out free. We prepare to inspire dozens of people to draw; more than 700 turn up and we are swamped, running a packed room of drawing on gallons of coffee and a thousand sheets of paper until 4.30am. Lucy Sparrow captures the night in photos and a nice girl called Laura Burgess helps tidy up.
Late 2009 Spurred on by bookings from enthusiastic new draftsmen from White Night I hurriedly take on a new unit (10 South) in addition to my current one especially to run life drawing classes. The Entente design a new leaflet, larger leaflet with a free fold-out poster to accommodate the new sessions. I drop the price of the sessions and Keith Mercer from the life class generously donates new easels and lights for the larger studio. Georgie Doman joins BLDS as our first intern.
BLDS logo designed by the Entente
Early 2010 BLDS continues to grow and we begin to gain publicity for our events, our 'Sociable Sketchers' group gets written up in the Argus; Nick Coquet models for us and writes about it in Source magazine and I give a talk about drawing at Pecha Kucha Night. We offer the first free life drawing sessions for marginalized artists, working with the charity Creative Futures. Artist Kate Shields starts to help out at the studio and is eventually convinced to model.
Film maker Dev Morgan made a short film about Jake and the Brighton Life Drawing Sessions, which can be viewed here.
April 2010 We hold our first studio based themed drawing session, Kate and I spend all night building an Alice in Wonderland themed set and painting the floor in checks. Our regualr collective of models hold a successful, all-day drawing event as a fund raiser for the forthcoming collaboration between Zoe, Frankie and myself although two models have to drop out from fatigue. Duncan Cromarty and Flossie Pettit draw at the event and Nione Meakin writes it up in the Argus Guide.
May 2010 We hold the Cinderella Project in the studio as part of the Fringe Festival, showcasing a year long collaboration of visual art and theater that encompasses a radio play, live painting, dance and an art exhibtion. The Cinderella Project requires building a fully functioning theater in the studio in three days and 24 shows are performed in a week; it is completely free. Life classes continue as normal either side of that week and the set becomes part of the studio; actress and musician Natalie Tena starts modelling for classes.
June 2010 A meeting is called to talk find out how much the regualr models and helpers want to help with expanding the drawing classes, the consensus is that I should still call the shots, but would provide more opportunities for everybody else to lend more creative input to the classes. Flossie Pettit designs the set for several classes and over the summer we start running big, themed sessions on a regular basis.
Summer 2010 We run a while load of big, themed life drawing sessions in quick succession; Strings, A Midsummer Nights Dream (Outside life drawing, designed and conceived by Flossie), The Drawing Circus (in a tent at Playgroup Festival with Ophelia Fancy) and Greek Myth themed life drawing. BLDS becomes truly collaborative, with the range of creative talent within the community of artists and models blossoming. At the last minute, when we are a model down for Greek Myths, Johanna Samuelson steps in as a back up...In the middle of hot summer nights Jake, Helen Cann and Kate work in earnest on the Cabinet of Wonders, supported by dozens of volunteer set builders.
Autumn 2010 Nione Meakin writes 'Inspiration to Draw On' in the Argus, Jake gives a talk at David Bramwell's Catalyst Club and we work with The Campaign for Drawing for the first time, unveiling our first Cabinet of Wonder at a drawing weekend overlooked by London Bridge an opened by Boris Johnson. We hurry to finish our two other Cabinets of Wonder before White Night 2010, whilst continuing our life classes as normal.
White Night 2010 At the end of October we hold or most ambitious drawing event yet, with the support of the Campaign for Drawing and the City Council we put on a huge Big Draw/White Night event called 'Enlightenment: Life Drawing from the Cabinets of Wonder'. The event involves three huge custom built carts, designed by Helen Cann, Jake Spicer and Kate Shields, which roll out onto the streets of Brighton, each equipped with a costumed model and pushed by a team of tutors and volunteers. These Cabinets of Wonder roam the streets all night, encouraging passers by to draw the models perched inside them whilst the Friends Meeting House in the Lanes is transformed into a huge all night life drawing class. It takes a team of over 60 volunteers, orchestrated by Helen Cann and directed by Jake, to put on the event; more than 1000 people draw. Anna Gibson takes her first photos for us; Lucy C, Nick Devenish and Charlotte Miller and Lucy Potts draw at our sessions for the first time and Shelley Morrow also draws there. We finish at 6am the in the morning; but classes continue as normal the next day.
A tiny bit of the wonderful design work that went into it all...plus credits for the event...
Early 2011 The year starts well; classes are given another huge boost by the success of Enlightenment and we are busier than ever. We run regualr themed life drawing sessions at the studio and in Guildford with Laura Nixon posing as Marilyn Monroe and further developed Tarot and Marionette themed life drawing sessions. We launch a new blog, join twitter and welcome Boris the Skeleton to the studio. Jake gives a well received TEDx talk on drawing at Brighton's first TEDx event.
April 2011The Campaign for Drawing present us a Drawing Inspiration Award for our White Night event at a ceremony at the British Museum and we help launch Arist's Open Houses 2011 with a drawing event at Pavilion Gardens.
May 2011 We run outreach sessions for the Guides and at an old people's home and continue our work with students contending with mental health issues. We run three follow ups to our 2010 collaboration with Ophelia Fancy, putting on 'The Drawing Circus' I, II and Guildford. Lucy C writes music for the con-joined twins to play whilst modelling; all events are sold out and we all plan a future Drawing Circus on a larger scale. We also transform the studio into a puppet theater to put on Daisy Jordan's pupet show 'Orson and Valentine' as a free event, another booked-out run of shows with amazing original music by Tom Newman.
Summer 2011 We open an art shop in the studio, themed sessions become a weekly happening and our volunteer team continues to grow and begins to meet regularly. Models who met at the studio start their own independent projects and collaborations between models, artists and tutors that come life drawing become commonplace. Studio parties for volunteers and regular social trips keep the studio dynamic and we gradually build the studio into a more effective drawing space, expanding and developing our tutored classes. The Cabinet of Wonder tours the South, going along the coast to Hastings and up to London where we cater for over 2000 people drawing on one day. Laura Burgess and Shelley Morrow start to regularly help out with the sessions.
Autumn 2011 The Brighton Life Drawing Sessions go through great changes, Draw is created as a new umbrella to encompass the wide ranging drawing events and classes that we now run, The Entente design a new visual identity for the life classes with a shiny new website, leaflet and text-based logo. Shelley Morrow takes on a long term position at the studio with Jake, taking over daytime class duties, easing the administrative burden and contributing her own ideas to the studio. Sessions become even more consistent and reliable and we are now able to run two sessions most days, we seek larger venues to accommodate the huge demand for our themed drawing sessions.
October 2011 Our amazing team of models, musicians, tutors and volunteers put on two incredible drawing events; The Drawing Circus III (now so big that we need to hold it in the Sallis Benney Theater in Brighton) and Corporeal, our White Night event for 2011 where we take over the whole of St. Paul's Church on West Street to create a free, all night drawing utopia. Around 750 people in total attend both events, helped along by our team of 80+ helpers. We work with the likes of Aerialist-artist Namoi Mcleod, puppet-maker Ellen De Vries; Tom Newman and Lucy Clougherty write original music for everything; photos are by Anna Gibson, Nick Caro and Jessi Steadman.
Winter 2011 The studio, under the joint management of Jake and Shelley with tutoring support for Hester Berry and Laura Burgess finally takes on a consistent shape. We take over running of the Brighton Sketchcrawl with artist Louise Simmons and pioneer a new series of flexible, structured tutored drawing classes. We have a studio piano, library and shop and more than 100 people come drawing every week.
Jan 12th 2012 We celebrate our 3rd birthday; in three years our models, tutors and artists have run over 1500 life drawing classes ranging from 1:1 classes to events that involve thousands of people. Over 3000 individuals in Brighton have been drawing at our studio, with others coming regularly from as far as Canterbury, Portsmouth and London. Over 5000 different people have drawn at our events and we have a team of over 120 people generously volunteering to keep the studio and our events running smoothly. We run sessions every day, all year.
Early 2012 We follow the success of last year's Drawing Circus III with The Drawing Circus: Grimm Tales, a themed drawing session based on Grimm's Fairy Tales. With music from Tom Newman and the Drawing Circus band, a team of talented and committed models attired in beautiful costume hand-made for the event by Emma Sandham King and photography by Anna Gibson.
May 2012 Draw run a succession of free workshops for children and adults during the Brighton Fringe Festival and win a second Drawing Inspiration Award for the 2011 White Night event, presented at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London .
Summer 2012 Draw run further themed events in Brighton at The Old Market and in London at the Camden Arts Centre for the first time. Great plans are being made for October...
November 3rd 2012 Draw run the first full sized Drawing Circus at the Old Market to commemorate 'The Missing White Night' and the Big Draw 2012. We take over the venue all day, with a Symposium for models and tutors in the daytime, a family drawing event in the afternoon and a big Drawing circus in the evening. Thank you to Mary Martin for photos of the Symposium and kid's drawings. Thanks to Roy Matthews and B for photos of the Circus...