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Stuart Sutcliffe - 3D virtual exhibition by Curator: Diane Vitale

Stuart Sutcliffe

LIFE STUDIES:

Sutcliffe’s model was June Furlong, who, following ten years modelling for many leading modern artists in London, had returned to Liverpool at the same time as Sutcliffe started his course. She has described the environment, arriving back at the college, in the light-filled top floor life studio at Hope Street, where she remembers Sutcliffe rarely without a large folder and drawing board (6).

The atmosphere was one of intense study, students working under a strict regime, often having to draw a single pose until mid-afternoon, then another between 4-6pm. Sutcliffe would even return for the evening sessions as well. There was a particular pose that he preferred, Furlong’s favourite in fact: drawn from behind, she stands with her weight on her right leg, hands clasped behind her back. Working in charcoal, chalk, pencil or pen and wash, these robust yet controlled studies demonstrate Sutcliffe’s graphic abilities during his Liverpool training – part of his learning to observe and translate the figure two dimensionally, a necessary skill that allowed him to then experiment with more abstract human forms.

Whilst Lennon was more interested in the life model’s anecdotes of a London art scene that included Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, Leon Kossoff and Carel Weight, Sutcliffe took his time in the life room extremely seriously. Although Lennon, who did not like to be seen as keen to learn, could be a disruptive influence on the class, with his chatter, lateness and musical preoccupations, the life room was a place of focused observation and quiet concentration. Afterhours however, Stuart, John and his then girlfriend, Cynthia (Powel / Lennon) would enter the life-drawing classroom where Stuart would conduct the life-class all over again and instruct John in the rudiments of how to draw the female form.

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