By Gail Reid (artist) and Cheryl Hardy (model) (Bristol, UK)

From Gail: “When a person is literally laying themself bare before the artist, it is impossible to scrutinise and represent them without empathy. My drawings are a celebration of the individual subject, and I hope that connection is transferred to the viewer. Seeing ourselves and each other through life drawing helps normalise diversity, rather than hiding it like some sort of unacceptable secret.

I was absolutely delighted to be chosen by Cheryl to work together recording her post-mastectomy physique. Cheryl’s previous experience as a life model gave her a very useful practical understanding of the process. I love our shared subversive streak, and the collaborative way we explore how Cheryl is represented. From the first meeting it was clear we are both comfortable with taking an open-ended approach… I am daunted by Cheryl’s confidence in my ability, she pushes me to take artistic risks!”

From Cheryl: “Breast cancer relentlessly stripped away everything that I deemed as feminine and beautiful about my body and appearance…It’s a never-ending, always changing, unbelievably difficult process to navigate both physically and emotionally. It was after surgery and during radiotherapy that I decided to become a life model again. I was bruised, broken and in pain but the universe introduced me to the very talented Gail at exactly the right moment. I love life modelling. I love the creativity, the power, the confidence, the physicality, the art, shape and form. I love that it’s empowering me with an awareness that a scarred body is an interesting and unique body of light and shade. I love the teamwork, respect and trusting relationship between the artist and model. And, I love that it’s pushing boundaries.”

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