I had been booked as a life model for the spring term, every Monday and Tuesday for 10 weeks; 3 hours a day, 60 in total.

On my first day, I met the tutor, and his students. We spent some time setting up the pose, adding cushions and props to support my body.

At 2pm the timer started. I would sit for 20 minutes at a time, with 5 minute breaks. During these short breaks, there were contracts to sign and forms to fill out.

The room was cold – there were a problem with the central heating. I had been given a fan heater, but its heat did not reach my body. By the end of the first 3 hour session, I was cold, and in pain; leaning against the back of the chair was quite uncomfortable. I was worried about the weeks ahead.

During the sessions that followed, I stretched in the breaks, twisting my body into counter poses, to release my aches. An extension lead was eventually found, and my goose bumps were banished.

Some days I would count down each minute of the session, but just as often the sound of the final timer elapsing was a surprise to hear.

“My body learnt to relax into the pose, and I found comfort in the stillness.”

Before I left the school, I took a photograph (using my camera phone) of the chair I had been seated on. It was a quick snap, to share with a friend. Eighteen months later, when preparing my portfolio for a Masters deadline, this image became the catalyst for an entire body of work.

© Fra Beecher 2020 (All Rights Reserved)