After Life Drawing: A *Very* Different Life Drawing Event

Resident artists Beki Wills and Catherine V Rock collaborate on a life drawing event called ‘After Life Drawing’ at Puppet Place with a deadly twist. We got together to find out a little more about their work.

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Photo theme: Love

Would you both be able to tell me a little bit about the work your make on your own as artists?

Cat: I am a puppeteer, fabricator and performer. Most recently I have been working with Paper Cinema as a puppeteer on their production of Macbeth (they also do some exciting stuff with drawing and performance.)  When I’m not puppeteering, I’m at Puppet place making things.  I design and fabricate puppets, costumes, props and prosthetics.  I really enjoy having the diversity of creating and performing.

I currently work with Longleat Safari Park making roaming street characters for their seasonal events. I also cosplay and I am a regular at World Zombie Day, making a new zombie each year to terrify the general public of London.

Beki: I’m a multimedia visual artist. I’m currently exploring the uncertainty and fragile existence of modern society in the form of automatic expression and mark making through a series of drawings on various surfaces. You can see my current work at @convergence10 

I also teach life drawing to hen and stag parties and now have fulfilled a lifelong ambition … as a cocktail maker! This is where I really get to show my artistic flare.

Working for a youth theatre company for many many productions, I produced scenery and props.  ‘After Life’ was an amalgamation of what we’d done before, are currently doing and then fusing it all together… and that’s what you get when you come to one of our events.

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Catherine V rock and Beki Wills. Photo Credit: Beki Wills

What role do each of you play in creating these After Life Drawing events?

Cat: My main focus in ‘After Life Drawing’ is the make up and costume design. I have always been fascinated by prosthetic makeup. I love films classics like Alien, Pans Labyrinth and Beetlejuice – anything with a unique story, memorable characters and horror. The thing I love about films like these is the fact that creatures and effects are made of something real, be it a costume, mask, make up or clay.  I love that they actually physically exist and that you can touch them.

We really want to create weird and horrific characters for people to draw, horrors that could exist in our world. It’s not only really fun to draw (who doesn’t love drawing a woman wearing a crown of human heads or a someone impaled on a flagpole?) but it also challenges you artistically by making you draw something out of the ordinary. We welcome people of all drawing experience to come and join us.

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Beki: We usually collaborate totally on the theme, storyline and any script that needs writing, re-writing, etc.  Cat’s expertise is costume and any prosthetics, fake blood and gore, and I will be scenery backdrops, props and music etc. We both host the night and narrate the story.  Years of teaching life drawing means I am model liaison and we’ve got some amazing models lined up for future events. Everyone seems to want to get covered in gore!

‘After Life Drawing’ is a combination of life drawing and storytelling with terrifying prosthetics and scenery. How much of this is performance and how much is still life?

Cat: We are still trying to figure out this balance and in the end it comes down to the story we are telling at the time.  For example, our first event was the Hanover Horror (a tragic story of a widow trying to bring her love back from the dead, which ultimately goes very wrong.) Here we told the story through a classic life drawing structure but with short scenes before and after the poses; narratively linked tableaus, if you will. This really allows the audience to connect with the story, getting some emotion and character context before drawing the scene. In this case the audience could have ended up with a full story in their sketchbook.

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Photo theme: Murder and Possession

In our most recent Valentines Day theme event, ‘Tainted Love’, we decided to explore two shorter stories, focusing more on setting and the characters. We don’t want to hold ourselves to a rigid format.  The joy of ‘After Life’ is that every event will be different and unique. Some will be more performative and some will focus on the look of the still image. It all depends on the stories we want to tell, then the character we want to draw. What will always be the same is the feel of the evening, a night of relaxed drawing fun with a horrific theatrical edge.

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Where do you think you’ll take ‘After Life Drawing’ in the future and are there any events lined up that we should know about?

Beki: Obviously we love using Puppet Place as a venue, being both artist residents, but we realise that we can only have a certain amount of people attending. Our main aim is for bigger, bolder and more gore, plus multiple venues for the same event, festivals and conventions. There is a lead up time of about a month to build and make for one night and that’s a lot of effort, and if we can share the night with more artists, whatever their creative ability, that’s a bonus.

We just have a date confirmed at Puppet Place, 30th of May … so join us on Facebook and watch this space!

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Interview with Martha King

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