Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Life Drawing at the Little Red House

Well one thing I did not expect to be doing whilst here in Oslo was to take part in a Life Drawing class. No not as the model! We were taking a walk down the river walk from Torshov to Grunerlakka and stopped at the little red house. A traditional Norwegian wooden house that is now a cafe and art gallery of sorts. We were perusing the work on display when Mare (Marie), the lady or more correctly an aging hippie chick (OK old bird) who runs the place, started chatting. When she found out I was a frustrated artist she suggested that I should come along to her Life Drawing class the following evening. Well would you ever!

It turns out the Red House has an interesting history. It is situated on the Akerselve river just below the Beyerbroa bridge in an area known as the "Molle". So named because of the many mills that once lined both banks of the river. Some still remain down one side and now house a mix of trendy businesses and eateries. This is an area where the river drops very steeply providing the motive power for many water wheels initially and electricity turbines later. On the bridge is a beautiful statue by Ellen Jacobsen depicting 4 "mill girls" in memory of the incredibly young women who lost their lives working in what were mainly spinning mills. It turns out the little Red House was the kindergarden where these girls could leave their babies whilst they slaved in the mills. What is now the main room of the cafe/gallery was in those days lined with built in cribs for the babies.

But back to the Life Class. I duly turned up at 6.00 pm on Tuesday evening, In fear and trepidation I might add. Convinced I had bitten off more than I could chew and was about to make a complete arse (f you will pardon the figurative term) of myself. It turned out that this was to be a very select class just four of us and the model, Silvee, a mature lady of some 66 years, I was advised, with a very artistic body. That is the best way I can describe it. My other three colleagues were, Mare the organiser, no mean artist and two other ladies with unpronounceable Norwegian names.

I can only assume Mare was making more money than she was declaring to the taxman as she was drawing directly onto stretched canvases and she must have used half a dozen in the space of 2 hours. I had just an A4 sketch pad. A bit of a come down from my usual A1 size paper. At least I could use that as an excuse for my artistic short comings. It turned out that Silvee was an actress and long time artists model. She was currently taking the lead role in one of Ibsens many plays which are currently playing in Oslo. She proved to be a very good model, striking very interesting poses which changed every 10 to twenty minutes. Fast work was essential. I used a mix of pencil, charcoal and my trusty Pentel brush pen which on this occasion proved to be the weapon of choice. The brush pen created considerable interest with the others who were not familiar with it. Two hours passed very quickly. Just a pity I am going home before the next session. Never mind it was an unexpected and enjoyable diversion.

Some of the results of my Life Class



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