Jonathan Armour led this session of the Unit.
When we draw someone else, we can easily objectify that person. When drawing oneself we cannot detach fully from the person we are scrutinising, we become the object and the subject of the drawing. All we know and feel about ourselves comes into it.
A theme in my own practice is a search for integrity and honesty – to get under the skin, to see below the surface. But why are we drawing ourselves within the context of a group? Perhaps the group brings a stimulus, a discipline and also it is difficult to lie in front of our peers who, by now, know us so well.
We live in a world where the self-portrait is exploding in a way never before seen in the history of human-kind. In the great majority of cases, these self-photographs (selfies) are taken when with a group. And the use of the nude/naked self-portrait is widespread, again in a way never seen before.
In this session we will start by working together around the table, small mirrors in front, to draw out heads/faces. Then we will break out to work individually in front of mirrors in other rooms – each decides on their level of undress.
This was such an awkward session, in an interesting way. Our sessions always imply a level of exposure since we discuss our sketches at the end. This time, each one of us also had to expose himself, as a model, to the most critical eyes: your own ones. It was a completely different experience to modeling for others or self portrait in private. The constricted space also contributed to that sense of vulnerability.
Working on a very small mirror to construct a full body self portrait added another dimension to the work.