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Nudity: Art or Pornography?

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Lately, some life models of my acquaintance have told me that in order to be able to work in schools they need to cover up and wear a bikini, or better still, a swim suit or a leotard. I was really stunned. It makes a mockery of the concept of drawing the human figure from life, a skill that is regarded as the foundation of drawing, with a tradition that goes back centuries, at the very least to Renaissance times.

I too have been a life model, or rather an art model, as I have posed nude not only for painters and sculptors but have also been involved in body painting. I am not ashamed of it and it is not something I would disown, even though at times I have felt under pressure to do so. I am actually proud to say that I have teamed up with body artist Victoria Guggenheim to be body painted for Catwalk4Change, a major charity event organised by Models of Diversity, which will take place on September 6.

If there is one thing I really cannot understand, it's the automatic association nudity seems to have, in many people's minds, with pornography.

I am not a naturist, I do not advocate taking one's clothes off to be closer to nature (but I respect people's choices in the matter). Being able to draw the human figure in detail is an important skill - architects, for example, are encouraged to draw from life in the course of their studies, to develop precision and an understanding of scale. Life drawing is something that young people should be taught. Amongst other things it helps to develop the ability to observe and understand the relationship of the parts to the whole.

Our galleries and museums are full of art works which display nude figures, in very realistic details. Does it mean that a policy should be in place whereby only people over 18 should be allowed in to view those masterpieces that display nudity?

Nudity, per se, is not sexual. It can be, but that will depend on the context. Pornography and nudity are not necessarily linked, just as not all representations of nudity are artistic. Let's try and be more discerning and avoid condemning nudity wholesale as pornographic.

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