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What Are the Neighbours Up To?: EndlessLoveCreative | Sheffield

EndlessLoveCreative is a Sheffield based life drawing workshop that brings new life to the art of life drawing; erasing all your preconceptions about what life drawing is and represents, EndlessLoveCreative give people of any artistic ability the ‘experience to enjoy experimenting’. The people who model do so in a celebration of their new-found confidence, while guests are free to chill and enjoy themselves while they leisurely draw the people around them.

Safi Bugel talks to founder Charlotte Righton.

A centuries-old practice, life drawing traditionally involved the sketching of a live model, typically nude, and from a male perspective. However, Sheffield-based collective EndlessLoveCreative do things slightly differently: those being drawn are not models at all, but rather friends or members of the community. Furthermore, they are not nude but dressed in exciting and intricate garments, arranged by founder Charlotte Righton.

Left unfulfilled by a course of classical life drawing classes, Charlotte decided to create this new programme, with an underlying aim to provide an unintimidating opportunity for people of all abilities to draw in a social environment. The result? “A poster, some art boards and lots of Ikea glasses later, we’ve had fifteen workshops, eight free socials and a maker’s market.”

“It’s not about perfection or compromise; it’s about doing something for yourself.”

The sessions take place in the Union Street workspace on one Friday evening of each month. Each is guided by a different theme, often in keeping with the model’s personality or the respective season (the Christmas session was inspired by Home Alone, for example). In accordance with Charlotte’s aim to create a comfortable atmosphere, the space is decorated with fairy lights and candles, with an eclectic, hand-picked playlist to soundtrack the evening: Charlotte’s go-to is London Grammar, Taylor Swift or northern soul. Wine, art supplies and boards are included.

Limited to just forty spaces per session, the class is intimate and seats are arranged in a circle to encourage inclusivity. Though the workshops promote challenging oneself, the environment is friendly and supportive: “it’s not about perfection or compromise; it’s about doing something for yourself.”

The reception so far has been positive: “it’s basically blown my mind!”, Charlotte enthuses. In turn, the engagement has inspired Charlotte to expand the project further, with the organisation of free-of-charge drawing socials in the summer to incorporate the whole community, regardless of income or skill. The EndlessLoveCreative project seems to be part of an exciting wider independent arts scene in the area: “so much goes on”, Charlotte says, citing smaller spaces like Sheffeild’s Bloc Project and the S1 Arts Space in particular.

Once a predominantly female-identifying scene, the demographic attending the workshops has expanded over the programme’s two-year course, with increasing diversity in age and gender. Though the collective is growing, a regular crowd has emerged, reinforcing this sense of community. As a 32-year-old, Charlotte feels especially at home in the classes, with many fellow attendees between the age of 25 and 40 years old: “this age bracket has been a little big neglected. I’m a single woman who wants to make friends.” For Charlotte and others, then, the programme is a unique platform for connecting with like-minded people.

So why no nudity? “I did a degree in fashion design, I enjoy fashion illustration and I have worked as a visual merchandiser, so it personally felt like a natural direction: something that I could really get people excited about because I was.” Furthermore, Charlotte explains that it is about creating a safe space with a more casual atmosphere. But EndlessLoveCreative is not anti-nudity: the programme has previously explored part-nudity with one model, Kerry, who had her body painted, allowing the class to try something different.

Whilst the workshop provides support and artistic opportunity for attendees, Charlotte believes that it is equally beneficial for the model, as it can foster confidence and self-acceptance. Previous models range from people looking to tackle their bucket-list to others who are ready to embrace personal insecurities.

In just its second year of existence, EndlessLoveCreative is still growing. A new monthly drawing workshop is in the works, encouraging an even more diverse audience - with children and parents alike - as well as more art markets throughout the year. In the long-term, Charlotte aspires for a place of their own, for talks and exhibitions as well as the current classes: “there will always be a need for safe spaces, and I would love to offer that”.

She’s certainly on the way.

Safi Bugel

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