Cherry* clutches her robe tightly and takes the stage at the small bar at King’s Cross. She is about to pose nude for her fellow art students.
Just hours ago, she was in court to see her ex-partner convicted. Image-based sexual abuse for sharing intimate images of her online without consent.
“Since then, I have not been able to get naked in front of anyone. This is my body rebirth,” she says.
Cheering back tears, Cherry pulled off her robe, turned her bare back toward Klass, and thrust her middle fingers into the air.
This is Magnolia’s art class. A live nude drawing class with a difference. Models aren’t the only ones who get nude.
Founded by burlesque artist and nude art model Rosie Kremer and artist mentor Kate Hart, the class is held every Wednesday in the dimly lit Dulcey’s, a former strip club turned boutique bar.
The class begins with the affirmation, “I accept love and allow myself to love myself.”
Next, ask 30 students to remove their clothes and get out their sketch pads.
“It’s so frightening that I can’t believe people trust me enough to do something like this,” Kremer said.
An artist’s gaze without criticism
Kremer has always been fascinated by the female body ever since he saw his short, curvaceous mother defy the heroin-chic trend of skinny women in the 90s. .
“I’ve always been exposed to the idea that there are different body types out there. [I thought] There must be others,” she said.
Working with her colleague Kate Hart, Kremer set out to create a space where women and those who identify with feminine experiences can interact with different bodies in a safe and platonic environment.
She says she focuses on “body neutrality.”
“I wanted to step away from this ‘body positivity. You have to love your body’ mentality for a moment,” she said.
“Let’s neutralize it and mix it. Sometimes we love it, sometimes we don’t.”
Later in the class, Ms. Kremer will conduct modeling exercises and participants will be able to pose for the class.
“The artist’s eye is completely different,” she says.
“You are looking at someone structurally, not critically.”
get back your naked body
When Cherry entered Magnolia’s house, she thought it was impossible to become a model.
After learning her ex-partner shared explicit photos of her without her consent, Cherry suffered from body dysmorphic disorder and was terrified of being photographed.
She came to Magnolia’s, which values consent every step of the way, to regain her lost self-control and confidence.
“I can get my naked body back because it’s mine,” she says.
“It’s my choice who to show and share.”
As the class sketches Cherry’s rebellious pose, Teacher Cremer asks if they would like a photo as a reminder of this moment.
“I agree,” she shouts back.
“Hello to my new body”
Another participant, Malaika Mufalme, also took the stage.
They told ABC that they felt disconnected from their bodies from an early age.
Growing up with twin sisters, my mother used to buy me dresses, but by the age of eight we realized it wasn’t for us.
Gender identity was new territory for her family, but after the death of her partner, MX Mufalme finally came out as nonbinary.
“My mother was completely dismayed when it came to gender issues,” they said.
“I didn’t want to hide it anymore, I just wanted to tell her.”
After years of suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, Mx Mfalme never believed that one could love one’s body.
“I thought people were just cheating,” they said.
But after undergoing top surgery, they discovered a new appreciation for their bodies.
At Magnolias, Mx Mfalme stepped into the spotlight and proudly showed off her new breasts.
Originally, they planned to attend this class last year to say goodbye to their chest.
“I was totally out of control. I got really busy,” they said.
“But now, instead of saying goodbye to my old body, I can say hello to my new body.”
During the class, several people took the stage, and some who were hesitant at first now take off their blouses and pants.
One of the participants joined the class to celebrate his birthday and posed back-to-back with his best friend on stage. Another was celebrating his graduation.
Liberation of artist nudity
The class has a relaxed atmosphere and welcomes beginners to seasoned artists. Attendees have even witnessed the winner of the Archibald Prize, Australia’s most prestigious portrait award.
Art teacher Kate Hart says nudity promotes camaraderie among participants.
Hart believes nudity makes participants more creative and improves the quality of the art created.
“With no armor, no clothes, you naturally get naked to that level,” she says.
“So we are more likely to produce more realistic artwork.”
Mx Mfalme believes that students would be more anxious about their work without the immersive nature of the class.
“But it’s more about the experience of being around liberated people,” they said.
“I think as a society we become more sensitive if we allow more of this kind of vulnerability.”
*Cherry’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-05-17/magnolias-art-classngs-cross-where-everyone-strips-off/102332616 Magnolia Art Class Encourages Participants to Paint Nude and Embrace ‘Body Neutrality’