I rarely talk about my past excursion into what one could refer to as erotic art, although I have been asked many times.
It was a thing that was gaining momentum, but as with many things, a pandemic got in the way. Ultimately, it all lasted around twelve months, and culminated in a private exhibition in London a few years back.
If I may, let me transport you back to a moment in time. Lily had lit a rather impressive fire in her sitting room and I sat cross legged in front of it, as I often do, staring at the flames. I love doing so, as logs cracked and spat hot embers onto the hearth I would watch the dancing shadows on the wall, little flickering movies playing out upon a Farrell and Ball backdrop.
Lily had made a most delicious meal, shared with the other ‘Sisters of the Ring’, Holly, Charlotte, and me. Vino had been poured, and soon all three had slumped rather food laden upon beanbags, stretching out tired limbs.
I continued to watch the shadows reel and jig about, as Charlotte flung her arms over my shoulders. ‘You old creative fool,’ she uttered, tracing outlines of shadows on the mantle with her long fingers as the dark figures broke away from them, momentarily forming new shapes.
We all stared at our gratis wall performance for a bit. The wine began to glow inside and our inner fabrics softened and settled into gentle streams of consciousness. It was only when Holly asked me something, that my attention left the show. ‘Have you ever thought of doing any erotic art?’ she asked. To this day, I’m unsure what prompted her to ask that question, at that particular moment, but I replied ‘No, not really.’
Well, I hadn’t. Yes, I’d drawn numerous nudes, but nothing, ahem, more risqué.
‘Well, if you ever do, decide to do some I mean, I’d be happy to help.’
The statement hung in the air, a little lonely, for a while.
‘Oh,’ I offered. ‘Oh, ok.’
About an hour, and a few bottles of wine later, Holly repeated her offer, her voice now a tad more slurred but remaining very sincere. Then, rather surprisingly, Lily offered too.
Then, like Mr Benn when the shop keeper appeared suddenly, I jumped slightly as Charlotte said, ‘Yeah, why not.’
So, that evening it came to pass. Well, the idea did. And, two weeks later we just bit the bullet, so to speak, and got the business done.
A dear friend of mine, who I can best describe as a similar character to Quagmire from Family Guy, has frequently asked me how this whole episode panned out, probably hoping I’d show him the photos I used as source material, and of course my answer was completely not what he wanted to hear. I told him it was a little nervy, then a bit serious, then quite delightful, then a tad weird, then totally surreal, but no you are not seeing the photos……
It was all of those things, but all the time my internal love tanks were totally flooded with respect for my three special friends who had trusted me to take their trust and turn it into something creative that they all thoroughly enjoyed. And, several months later, when ten drawings had been completed, and hung on the gallery wall, the Sisters all stood together at the opening night, and not one other person in the room knew I had drawn them or they were the ones who modelled for them. In that way, we could all get jolly pissed without worrying about awkward questions. And we did. Lily and I even returned the next night, when the free punch pretty much floored us both.
Naturally, I can never post any of those drawings. All of them sold in the end, and the scans are safely stored. Lily has her own ones and can choose if she ever wishes to show them. I’ve been asked to do more, and been offered silly money to do so, but in the end was the right thing at the right time.
Whenever I stare at an open fire, and I do, a lot, I cast my mind back to that evening as flame shadows pirouetted above the mantelpiece. I imagine Charlottes arms upon my shoulders telling me I was an old creative fool. I guess all those things are true.
- this drawing is nothing to do with this recollection. It is based on a pic by the photographer Sam Haskins.