Dr Sketchy’s Perth is an established monthly event hosted by the Bakery in Northbridge.
Somewhere between a life drawing class and a burlesque show, Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School originated in 2005 in New York, during the revival of burlesque culture. There are now schools worldwide, with Perth enjoying two monthly sessions, in Northbridge and Fremantle.
The life models are usually local performers, and the event itself has a vaudeville flavour thanks to the music and the MC, in this case the unforgettable Dr Barry Umenema. Stalking the aisles, he involved the audience in games and quizzes while we drew.
Onstage, our model Ruby Slippers settled into the warm up poses. Wednesday night’s event had a Tiki theme, with a kitsch tropical set, and madam was resplendent in leopard print, amongst the hand-carved Tiki sculptures, bamboo and ukuleles.
Miss Slippers is a long time member of Sugar Blue Burlesque and a pop culture expert, and assumed some brilliant cheesecake poses.
I had a great spot right at the front, and it’s best to show up early if you would like a good view. Although there are plenty of options for seating, if you have a big drawing board or an easel you’ll need to stake a claim. There were a lot of regulars and some new faces, with a range of materials and dedication, from the friends who were just there for a cocktail from guest bartender Rummy Gilligan, to serious students with a full set of inks and charcoal laid out.
The producer had charmed some sponsors into giving great prizes, so throughout the session there were competitions to build a great cocktail garnish, as well as the traditional drawing comps, with the winners taking home Tiki mugs, rum and free passes.
We were treated to a quick burlesque act, which allowed Ruby Slippers to get down to the smallest costume yet (leopard underpants, leafy pasties and a glossy red pompadour) before she found the right arrangement for the long pose that didn’t make her feet go to sleep. DJ Bendog kept the soundtrack of lounge and reggae spinning as we leaned over our sketchbooks, or chatted quietly.
After the final 25 minute pose we lay our drawings out on the stage, and there’s a cluster as people crowd in to have a look at each other’s drawing, and exclaim at method or execution. The favourite sketches are picked out and the prizewinners congratulated, with a feeling of general good will and encouragements to come back next month.
Structured like an art class, but located in a venue with a bar, Dr Sketchy’s allows serious practitioners time with a good model and curious bystanders a taste of local talent. It’s definitely best if you intend to draw though, because the night is set up with plenty of time to get some sketches down on paper. With such good inspiration, it’s hard not to join in!
By Anne Barnetson
Photography By Matthew Picken View Album