Life drawing classes suspended in all Stoke Bishop halls

Why do we need permission to get naked in our own homes?


Bristol’s artists have had life drawing classes suspended until they receive permission from more senior figures in the management of Student Living.

Dr Ralph Thompson, senior resident at Hiatt Baker, Cambridge grad and former President of the Art Society in the SU, set up the initiative to run the classes so that students with mobility problems or those who were unable to attend the classes at the SU were still able to participate.

It would have also given students living in Hiatt Baker – or any of the Stoke Bishop halls – the opportunity to try something new.

Ralph's drawing of a Bristol student

Ralph’s drawing of a Bristol student

At the fee of approximately £10 an hour for a model, Hiatt Baker has no budget to fund the classes so Ralph suggested that he or the students could pose nude in order to avoid extra costs. To this, from the Student Support Association and Head of Student Living, Caroline Court, suggested that an ‘impact assessment’ report may be needed.

Rachel O’Donohoe, Politics and International Relations student at Hiatt Baker, has been very surprised by this reaction from the seniority of her halls.

She said: “I don’t understand why mature university students are being treated like this when life drawing is accepted in secondary schools around the country and has been a respectable art form since prehistoric times.”

Rachel's drawings

Rachel’s drawings

The reluctancy of the SSA to permit the nudity has come across to the artists as though the seniority are worried the naked body is somehow dangerous or insulting. In the forward-thinking world we now live in, why are we repressing a century-old academic practice that people can freely chose to be a part of?

Sophie Kalik sees no reason why we shouldn't pose nude

Sophie Kalik sees no reason why we shouldn’t pose nude

Many of the students who have been affected are frustrated by Caroline’s lack of support for their artistic pursuits and find it absurd that they need permission to be nude for the sake of art in a place where they pay to live.

Ralph, who has modelled nude and sketched since he was 17, is startled by the disinterested approach the senior officials at Hiatt Baker Halls have taken towards the classes.

See http://www.ralphthompson.co.uk/Pages/portfolio.aspx for more of Dr Thompson's work

See http://www.ralphthompson.co.uk/Pages/portfolio.aspx for more of Dr Thompson’s work

We have still been given no valid reason for why the classes cannot take place and frankly, it’s insulting.