sketchsesh: when we hosted life drawing classes in our office

What’s the most fun you could have on a Monday night? SketchSesh is the free-flowing brainchild of artists James Davison and Simon Gray. We welcomed them into a corner meeting room of the i-D office for four weeks of reckless, imaginative life drawing.

by Matthew Whitehouse
13 March 2018, 8:15am

This article originally appeared in The Radical Issue, no. 351, Spring 2018.

Every Monday evening was the same. At around seven o’clock, they’d come – young, old, eager, proficient, unproficient (us). An office lamp would be deployed, a couple of pot plants utilised for whatever theme had been selected that night; Pre-Raphaelite meets Jurassic Park, say. Whoever had been roped in to model would recline in front of a decked-out clothes rail, breaking concentration only to gossip with their friends in the front row.

The brainchild of illustrators James Davison and Simon Gray, SketchSesh began as a free-flowing drawing class in the basement of Dalston’s The Glory, with the express purpose of documenting the characters and narrators of London’s queer scene. “We both remembered and missed the life drawing sessions at the old CSM building,” James explains. “We wanted to do something that reflected our community in east London and our shared history as well.” Materials would be provided, paper spread out and paint brushes stood to attention inside empty Douwe Egberts pots – photographer Roxy Lee would document the whole thing on an old film camera between fag breaks. “It was fab,” James says.

Reinventing life class: Nazir Mazhar debuts the first drop of his spring/summer 18 collection at SketchSesh.

For four weeks, we welcomed SketchSesh into a corner meeting room of the i-D office for a special run of sessions that included as models Roxy Lee and east London radical Max Allen, artist The Real Davey Baby, and London designer Nasir Mazhar, who debuted his latest and most fantastic collection to a soundtrack of Glen Campbell and obscure Hideo Yamaki. “Sketching anthropomorphic creatures straight from Nasir’s head was a particularly inspiring session,” says James. “We had a real mix of established artists and students there, which was exactly what we wanted too.”

Other drawers included Martine Rose and Fashion East newbie A Sai Ta; i-D Guest Editor Charlie Porter; and the regular, inimitable presence of Princess Julia, who could occasionally be heard heckling the models among squeaks of chalk. “You look really pissed off,” she told a hungover Roxy Lee, as she posed in nothing but a slim, black loincloth. We hope that you enjoy the creative labours of the drawers as much as we enjoyed making them. As for what’s next for SketchSesh? It’s back to the drawing board, of course, and if you want to get involved, follow @sketchsesh on Instagram.

Anne McCloy
Stanislaw Krzyzewski
Lucie Russell


Photography Roxanne Lee

The Glory
life drawing
james davison
simon gray