A Short history of the Life Models’ Society
Once upon a time there were three voluptuous life models: Kate, Hannah and Maria, who modelled extensively throughout Melbourne, yet none of them had ever met. Each had been assigned hazardous conditions, unequal rates of pay, and a lack of community support.
Clues to each others’ existence became apparent through the odd discarded drawing, a stray phone number on an art room wall or a lost item of clothing left inadvertently in a change room. One day a notice went up in a change room inviting stray models to get together and from a meeting of these three, The Life Models’ Society (LMS) was born.
No longer were these intrepid models to toil in lonely ignorance. The realisation that solidarity was strength and that a committee of like-minded individuals could bring about change.
Individuals, groups and venues could now use a regularly updated phone list to book their models. Models could now associate with other like-minded individuals and even replace themselves when ill or over booked. Standards of pay and work conditions could now be standardised, social occasions could be arranged, classes could be organised which would promote life drawing throughout the community.
New aspiring models could attend workshops and learn the mysteries of modelling from experienced models/minders, rather than be thrown in the deep end. Protection of models and a dialogue between the models requirements and the needs of the hirers could now occur. From these humble beginnings the LMS has developed into what we have today; an organisation representing over 150 models and an equal amount of subscribers, who receive an updated list of current models quarterly. Models are now trained and vetted before being sent out on their own and the quality of models is constantly improving. Ideas, concepts, and general tips on well-being are shared. Pitfalls are discussed and models are able to be recommended by fellow models who are acquainted with their work and abilities. Workshops are run regularly for members in drawing, photography and other associated fields.
A core group of volunteers has been set up, which meets regularly and discusses pertinent issues and helps resolve problems that arise in relation to its members, as well as paving the way for the society’s future.
Newsletters are sent out regularly and models are encouraged to submit thoughts, ideas, poetry, and experiences. Forums are held, where models can have an input. Exhibitions of work by the society have been held and seasonal salons of drawing are organised.
The LMS can also recommend models for specialist jobs, such as sculpture, body casting, photography, theatre, television, body double work etc. The LMS has also held workshops, picnics, barbeques, and even an artist’s and model’s ball. Recreations of famous paintings such as Manet’s “Luncheon in the Grass”, Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” using an all female cast for art classes, and Ingres’ “The Turkish Bath” have been recreated for art classes.
The LMS is constantly growing and changing to meet the needs of this modern world yet with an eye on the past, where life modelling was still seen as an integral part of an artist’s training. As we move through the 21st Century, our role will undoubtedly change, but our commitment to the arts as muses and advocates for life drawing will not change.