It might seem as though there's a recurring theme to my We Trieds. Rest assured I kept my kit on while I was cooking office lunches for everyone. Wouldn't be game to mess with our workplace occupational health and safety officer. And the Brumbies have seen the back of enough tight forwards (or loose forwards as the case may be) to last them a season.
But this is art. So it doesn't count.
The Canberra Art Workshop offers life drawing classes three times a week. And they need someone to draw. I've always considered myself somewhat rubenesque. And if I'm honest being a life drawing model is something I've wanted to do since my halcyon university days where classmates would make easy money getting their gear off for art's sake. I've just never been game
I didn't have much time to over think it. I'd sent an email on Thursday exploring the opportunity, received a phone call on Friday to tell me Monday's model was unavailable, any chance I could fill in? Sure. Why not. Let's do this. I spent the weekend googling poses. For sure I couldn't lie back pretending I was Kate Winslett in Titanic for three hours. Would Leo even be there?
So I rock up to M16 Artspace, dressing gown tucked under my arm, find my studio and get chatting with the lovely people attending that day's class. There's about seven of them, a mixed gender group, each and everyone of them kind and welcoming and helpful. And I haven't even stripped off yet.
I slip into my dressing gown behind a door and come out to take my place on the platform under the spotlight. I'm told we will do a series of short two minute poses, extend that to 15 for a couple more, there'll be a short break, and then the session will end with two longer poses of around 30 minutes.
The dressing gown drops. I perch on a stool, turn away with my hands behind behind my back, a foot up on a stool, a hand over my hand. I spend the two minutes thinking what my next pose will be, forgetting that my body is on display. A friend who had experience being a life model gave me the best advice - they're looking at you, not at you, she said. She also advised me to shave my legs, if there were a chill it might get prickly. Our esteemed art critic Sasha Grishin advised me not to smile. (But I wonder later, when I've got time to think about all sorts of things, if I were to lie there thinking of something, or indeed someone, rather pleasurable, would that make any difference to how the drawers perceived me?)
My first longer pose, seated, demurely, gets complimented by the drawers, "a lovely pose", "you're a natural", "a delight to draw".
It's affirming, but that's not why I'm here. I don't know why I'm here. I'm not here, I know, because I need someone to tell me my body is beautiful. I am, the whole of me, beautiful inside and out, if I don't say so myself. That's what I keep telling myself anyway. I am indeed bigger than I have been for a long time.
And the artists love that. There are curves and lines and shadows in all sorts of places. Nothing angular about my body. There is, however, a chance to discuss body image, one drawer gives me a portrait to take home which she has titled "Goddess - and don't you forget it". I kind of do.
The best thing about the whole experience is just being still. In body and mind. A couple of times I get pins and needles in an arm, a chair presses into my leg in a position I thought would be more comfortable. Apparently I am a still model, they're impressed with this given I'm a virgin, and for me the stillness comes from within.
How often, in this crazy world, do you just get to flop about on a couple of pillows and do absolutely nothing for 40 minutes. And if there just happens to be a room full of people with pencils looking at you, so be it.
The Verdict: I've already booked in to model at my next class. I loved it.
Details: Canberra Art Workshop runs life-drawing classes three times a week. Models get paid $100 for the three-hour shift. (I did not get paid for this class.) And they're always on the look out for models of all shapes and sizes, ages and gender. If you're interested head to the CAW website at canberraartworkshop.org.au