Art

Things to do in Manchester: life drawing, burlesque & a doctor in the house.

Mark Slattery
Posted
Mark Slattery Dr Sketchy life drawing

Try your hand at life drawing courtesy of Dr Sketchy, a night that combines art, music and, er, burlesque.

One of the great things about living in Manchester is that you turn any corner and you’ll stumble upon an evening of art, theatre or music. But what about a night that combines all three? My visit to Dr. Sketchy Manchester on a dark November evening was that rare triptych of entertainment: life drawing and burlesque, set to a punk/alt-pop soundtrack. Organised by local artist Lee Crocker, Doctor Sketchy is the Manchester branch of a self-styled “Anti-Art School” founded in Brooklyn in 2005. The idea rapidly spread to 100 cities across the world, its aim simple (and apparently universally appreciated): to make life drawing fun again by taking it out of the classroom and by replacing traditional life models with burlesque performers.

It was that rare triptych of entertainment: life drawing & burlesque, set to a punk/alt-pop soundtrack

The night I went to was a Halloween-themed event hosted by the tiny Three Minute Theatre (inside Afflecks Arcade). Once seated, and with pencil and paper in hand (or, if you’re forgetful like me, pen and notepad), the lovely Bonnie Pettie and Sukki Singapora struck their first pose of the night. Dressed in theme-appropriate attire, including pigtails and back-combed hair, the girls stood centre stage, much like traditional life models. This first half of the night comprised of several such poses, with Crocker playing compare, DJing and spicing things up by challenging us to draw without looking down, or with one continuous line.

After half a dozen poses and sketches, the girls performed a short burlesque piece about two girls with a mutual destructive streak that ended in a little stripping and a lot of fake blood. A little kinky for an art class? Yes, but I probably felt more comfortable watching it than I would have studying a static nude all night, and it was definitely more Carry On than Gentleman’s Club. Later, the girls came back for a second round of poses, this time with the musical accompaniment of alt-pop theremin musician, Loop Aznavour. The strange and eerie music added to the Halloween strangeness of it all, as Bonnie and Sukki used dolls, scissors and rope as props. Did I mention the prizes? Fun prizes, not good ones, mind, but surely everyone has room in their life for charity shop vinyl? So: an art class, a DJ, live music, burlesque and prizes, all for less than the cost of a cinema ticket. That’s a good night out in my book. Best start sharpening your pencils for the next session.

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