Big Artists Come Together for Save A Life Drawing Charity Event
While 2020 has felt like one shit storm after another for nearly all of us, there have undoubtedly been groups that it has hit hardest. In one of these suffering groups lies underfunded charities all over the UK. Since the first lockdown, back in March, breast cancer charities saw a terrifying 80% drop in donations. People just couldn’t donate like they used to anymore. Fun runs, marathons and bake sales were cancelled, and for many, donating money just wasn’t something they could afford to do right now.
So with the prospect of a second lockdown looming and Breast Cancer Awareness month's arrival, Stephanie Flynn & Olivia Shortland decided to kick themselves into gear and try to change that (even if only by a fraction).
The idea for the event was born out of something only Lockdown 1.0 could have offered. A small group of bored friends attending an online life drawing class modelled and taught by, well another bored friend, Rowena Cox-Willmott.
After weeks of drawing other boobs (and showcasing her own) Steph - like so many other women - realised she just didn’t check her own boobs enough.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and yet still the majority of women might go a whole year without checking their boobs. So, Steph and Olivia realised they had an opportunity to raise some awareness, as well as some much needed money. And that’s how ‘Save A Life Drawing’ was created. A life drawing class featuring models that had been affected by breast cancer, to raise awareness and money for Breast Cancer Now.
It felt like the perfect event, as the aim of a life drawing class is to really focus on the body. You have to examine every curve, line, dimple, capturing the colour and texture of the skin. It’s a really thorough examination, and yet we don’t look at our own bodies with the same intensity, but we should. So, as well as raising money, this event would also help teach participants how to thoroughly examine their boobs and bodies for signs of breast cancer.
Instead of just featuring women who have had mastectomies, Steph and Olivia wanted to showcase how many people breast cancer affects, from the people left behind, to the people holding hands at hospital appointments. It was important to try and show the range of people breast cancer gets to. Putting out an open call on Instagram, the girls cast five models, four females and one male, all of whom had been affected by breast cancer.
The models held a range of stunning and interesting poses and to ensure there was an education element to the evening, host Rowena also showed people the three finger feel technique. See Annemarieke Kloosterhof’s paper art illustrating the technique beautifully.
As well as the participants, Steph and Olivia invited twelve incredible artists to take part. They generously donated their time and finished pieces to raise even more money in a post event art raffle being held in December. Kelly Anna London, Stina Persson, Alva Skog, Mary Lou Faure, Kadna Anda, paper artist Annemarieke Kloosterhof, Alice Bloomfield, animation director Alex Grig, Jasmin Sehra, Genie Espinosa, Paula Castro, and Hayley Wall.
The girls curated this list of artists in particular because their styles have a common thread, either studying the human form in some way, or portraying the feelings of positivity and strength of the body that so many people with breast cancer muster daily. Steph and Olivia wanted to steer clear of impersonal facts and figures or the ‘fighting’ cancer narrative and just show strength in all its forms, be that with your head buried in your knees or proudly showing your scars. The models surrendering their naked bodies to a zoom full of strangers not only reminded us to examine our own bodies but also to embrace them even if sometimes we feel like they may have failed us. Combined with a playlist curated by Worldwide Fm’s Marina Garvey Birch, this was an evening about celebrating the body and enjoying the now.
The incredible spread of work that the artists have created is not only aesthetically beautiful, but each piece serves as a reminder to check your boobs more often.
This year hasn’t been easy for artists, so Steph and Olivia are so grateful for them being so generous with their time and work. It’s always such a testament to the creative community when artists come together for a project for good.
Jasmin Sehra who is a typographer and illustrator, created her piece alongside the words ‘You are stronger than you think’. This piece encapsulates the incredible power of anyone, patient or family member, experiencing breast cancer.
Jasmin Sehr said: "It was great to see a community of people and artists from diverse backgrounds and professions get together and support a great cause through creativity. It was an honour to have been a part of a project championing strength in so many forms".
The original artwork from each artist will be sold in a raffle, to continue the fundraising for Breast Cancer Now. Raffle tickets are on sale on TheyMadeThis.com and you can buy raffle tickets for specific pieces. The draw will take place on Sunday 20th December and (Covid restrictions allowing) will be held at the They Made This shop in Seven Dials, London (47/49 Neal Street, Seven Dials, WC2H 9PJ) where the originals will also be on display. The draw will be streamed live and the winners announced on Save A Life Drawing’s instagram page.
‘I’ve attended a gazillion life drawing classes and I always love it - but this time it was really special. I didn’t really know what I was in for, I hadn’t expected to be quite as overwhelmed and amazed as I was. When I draw the figure I go into a meditative place and the models just gave it their all. I thought that maybe Zoom would take away from the experience but you could actually really feel the mood of the models; their nervousness and bravery knowing what they have been through took it to a new level. And I didn’t just end up drawing boobs, I went home and checked them too.’
‘ It was such a fun and enriching experience, drawing from life models is always a very tricky and fun thing to do. Painting straight from reality and with a completely different media than a ‘regular’ job is so enriching. Also the project idea is so good that it’s impossible not to join!’ There are plans to create a second ‘Save A Life Drawing’ event in early 2021, so follow @savealifedrawing for more info.