I’m so very glad I had my camera on me last Thursday. In town anyway, and with an hour to kill, I spotted a “life drawing drop-in and photography session” at Cornerhouse – as part of Vogue Fashion’s Night Out, and inspired by the current Double Indemnity exhibition.

That Dame Upstairs, pic by Chris PayneI walked into the space, not really knowing what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised to be met with a cheeky little whiskey mac – a nice touch, adding to the noir-ish atmosphere. The lighting was low, with some dedicated spotlights on specific areas in the room – the Double Indemnity backdrop, an easy armchair and a couple of pedestals. There were already some people sitting on the floor, in eager anticipation with their sketchpads and cameras.

When the sultry femmes fatales finally entered the space, they prowled round like big cats, stretching onto a chaise longue or reclining in a chair, drawing on cigarettes, flicking idly through a vintage Life magazine.

Each of the life models seemed to have their own internal through-story, one with an initial sultry confidence which slowly eroded into a delicate sadness; another with a stern facade which betrayed a damaged past. The Sisters Gorgeous gave a little of their fictional history to each who photographed or sketched them – a heartfelt look straight into the lens, or a cheeky (almost tearful?) smile which made you feel like the only one in the room. It was this generosity and attention to detail which made it such a pleasure to capture: easily the most satisfying 30 minutes of photography I’ve yet experienced. That Dame Upstairs, image by Chris Payne


Review by Chris Payne

What: That Dame Upstairs – life drawing/photography drop-in

Where: Cornerhouse, Manchester

When: October 10, 2013

More info: http://www.cornerhouse.org/art/art-events/vogue-fashion%E2%80%99s-night-out-that-dame-upstairs-life-drawing-and-photography-drop-in

 That Dame Upstairs, photos by Chris Payne