The DIY art empire of Dr Sketchy’s was created by Molly Crabapple when she grew tired of the stuffy and strict system of life drawing classes. The anti art school was founded to be an event rife with debauchery and resplendent with risque women. This fun blend of alt and art takes place in well over a hundred different cities around the world and features fetish models, burlesque dancers and all manner of unconventional performers posing for the sake of unconventional art.
The Middlebrough branches debut event has been made possible by one such group of performers the Headline Honeys. Saturday October 23rds matinee event blends burlesque performances by Betty D’Light of The Headline Honeys, Felicity Switch of the Coquette Collective and Constance Peach with stalls, retro beats from lady DJ “La Vierge Marie” and most importantly, with art. Sketchy’s is ultimately an experience in alternative life drawing, but competitions and cupcakes abound taking what is usually very clinical and uninspiring and instead places the artists in a situation that is much more social, much more inspiring and in this case has that kitsch kink that transports you to a bygone age.
The event was brought to you by “My event” at Middlesbrough Council, Frankii Wilde and The Headline Honeys, local artist Alan Wallace and compere Little Gem. My Event is an initiative that Middlesbrough council funds allowing artists to put on events for other artists and create cultural communities. Sketchy’s itself brought quite a number of artists out of the woodwork and was a cozy, kooky and alluring affair. Putting pen to paper to a retro rock n roll soundtrack while a mademoiselle in her baroque regalia stripped down to her skin in the most elegant and character full manner I have seen in a long while. Constance Peach was a thoroughly entertaining first act and her costume was inspiring to draw. Setting the competitive template for the event with two poses, with time limits of 20 & 10 minutes respectively and prizes for the best pieces the draw-offs quickly became addictive from the moment the first scrambly mark was made on the paper. Experimentation was the cornerstone of the challenge with banana boxes, calendars and more all transformed into something beautiful, frantic and different.
Benefiting from an open bar this was undoubtedly more casual than your typical life drawing class and as the second performance, this time featuring the work of The Headline Honeys own Betty D’Light, shows, it is not without a degree of showmanship. Betty’s performance took more than the simple ability to strip, winding a spidery narrative as she danced on point for a majority of the act. The dramatic wired spiderweb skirt made for a stark first pose, where as her second and third poses were much more relaxed but still drew sharp attention to the bold bondage like feel of the costume.
Felicity switch was a strong change in pace as her twitchy silent hill inspired entrance saw the bandaged and strait jacketed performer dragged to the stage by a convulsing masked nurse. This inspired performance didn’t stop there, continuing to be rife with cheek and staying on theme for the whole act, ending with a set of bloody bandages.
A prop malfunction saw the first pose from Felicity and her nurse companion get progressively more bloodied throughout the 10 minute draw off whereas the later pose was a lot more subtle but nonetheless enticing. All in all this first Sketchy event in the Tees area was a delight filled afternoon of anarchic arting in more ways than one which benefited in its demeanor from what initially felt like an odd time to host an event. If I can expect more of the same on a monthly basis I’d gladly ‘dip my nib’ and scrawl along to Sketchy’s at ‘Alberts yet again.