Two women from Brixton have created a caring community after moving their life drawing class online to keep creative during lockdown.
Textile designers Anya Gomulski and Rebecca Dagless started the classes in December 2019 after noticing there wasn’t much chance for people in the community to flex their creative muscles.
The class quickly became a success and was often sold out – until the lockdown in March put an end to face-to-face meet ups.
Instead they launched their classes online via zoom, which allows people the chance to create art from their own homes.
Ms Gomulski said: “The wonderful thing is, everyone can get involved. We cater for all ability levels and nurture people into becoming the best artist they can be.
“We pride ourselves in being supportive and welcoming to everyone – and if anyone is ever feeling isolated or lonely, we offer additional classes.”
The sessions are often held on a Tuesday evening from 19:00 and have a pay what you can policy.
The model is paid a full salary and 20 per cent of the profits are donated to charity.
An added benefit of the online session is that it allows people who wouldn’t be able to attend a real life session to join in.
Ms Gomulski added: “We have had so many people get in touch with their stories, including a lady who joins from a unit in hospital as she struggles with her mental illness but finds drawing to really help.
“We have another regular who is recovering from a stroke and has experienced paralysis on one side of the body – so being able to join from the comfort of her own home is ideal.
“One of our drawers is registered blind and has very limited sight left – however, using a specialist screen and set up, she is able to get involved on our Zoom classes and see the model well enough to join in.”
The duo also run special events including a breast cancer class. The model was a breast cancer survivor who had undergone a double mastectomy and the session raised hundreds of pounds for cancer charities Make 2nds Count and Coppafeel.
Ms Gomulski said it was one of the highlights of the whole experience, adding: “It was educational, fun and raised awareness for a really important cause.”
The pair also run a regular session for their elderly neighbours through South London Cares – a charity that tackles loneliness and isolation.
Ms Gomulski said: “It’s been such a joy running these sessions and chatting with our older neighbours who often have never given life drawing a go before and obviously it’s rather amusing seeing their faces light up when a naked person walks onto their screens.”
As well as providing a creative space, the classes have helped connect people during the pandemic.
Ms Gomulski said: “We are both really proud to have established a successful business that has made such a difference to so many people – and to have allowed people to fall back in love with art.”
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.