Life drawing is a practice that bridges the professional, pedagogical and recreational. It rarely, however, penetrates the public sphere because of the difficult negotiations between nudity, obscenity, sexuality and the public good. This work paralleled other research into transgressive and participatory forms of life drawing that utilise tropes of the neo-burlesque to test the effects of life drawing writ large in the public sphere—in this case a work almost 300 metres long on the William Jolly Bridge, Brisbane CBD.
This large-scale public artwork, BYUBNo.3, was derived from a life drawing performance in which a neo-burlesque performer and life model re-enacted a series of traditional fan dances performed by the subversive artist Sally Rand in a mechanical gesture of posing typical of life drawing processes. The tension between what is concealed and what is revealed implicates the public imagination concerning life drawing as well as the uneasy relationship between life modelling and sex work, as outlined by Sarah Phillips in her book Modelling Life. This unusual method of posing significantly impacted both the power politics of the life drawing exchange and the resultant drawings. These drawings were then digitally masked and stitched for the site-specific installation. This work demonstrates the potential for life drawing methodologies in the public sphere.
This is a major public installation chosen by the Urban Design Group, Brisbane City Council, for projection on the William Jolly Bridge for a week in October, 2015. Four large format glass slides were produced from masked digital images and projected to cover the entire bridge. The project was highly visible to the CBD, M3 traffic, ferry services, riverwalk, the Victoria and Kurilpa bridges and the QAGOMA grounds. Other significant artists to have done work on the William Jolly Bridge are Guan Wei and Ian de Guchy.