About Me

Welcome to our blog - RAM members and non-members alike! This will be used periodically to put up things of interest/importance for RAM. The watchwords for our models are competence, conduct and reliability. We are the premier register for life models in the UK. All our models are auditioned or referenced. We also do ID checks on artists to ensure models' safety. These measures together help us provide the best service possible, both to models and artists. Register of Artists' Models website is: www.modelreg.co.uk. Our life drawing hen party site is: www.henpartieslondon.blogspot.com

Thursday, 8 October 2009

POSTS FROM OLD BLOG

Hello Everyone.

As a prelude to posting new stuff, here is the old stuff!

This will not come over when we do the promised changes to the website - so here it is!!

RAM MEMBERSHIP FEE 10-04-09

RAM has managed to keep the annual membership fee at the same level for several years. We intended 2009 to be another year with no increase but, unfortunately, Google have recently doubled their fee for processing online payments and we can't avoid passing this extra expense on to members. Even so, the new fee of £31 per year represents by far the smallest percentage increase in our history and is still fantastic value for the prestige of being a member of the only standards monitor for the profession of life model.



EMPLOYERS - ARE OUR MODELS LETTING US DOWN ? 12-03-09

We never stop plugging the fact that the whole point of RAM's existence in the first place was to restore to the job of life modelling some of the professional status it used to enjoy. Naturally, this involves taking a big interest in the the competence, conduct and reliability of our members.

Of course, we can't achieve as much as we would like without the cooperation of you, the employers. Some (but not enough of you) are fairly ready to report shortcomings in competence and reliability, also in conduct, where the work sessions themselves are concerned. But our interest in conduct extends beyond the life room or photographic studio. There is also the question of how our members behave in replying to advertisements. There have been disturbing complaints about unsolicited nude photos, for example, or where nude photos were requested, unacceptably erotic ones being sent. RAM members can be expelled for either of those breaches of the rules. There have also been comments about email harassment, and plain rudeness.

The big problem for us is the reluctance to name names. We can't act on general complaints. Worse still is when employers complain about RAM members to other people, but not to us! We are not another free-for-all Web listing. There is no place in RAM for unprofessional behaviour inside or outside the life room. Models are ready enough - quite rightly - to complain about employers. Make sure it works both ways! You can always contact us using this form.



TV SHOW PROVES STRIPPING FOR ART IS A BIG DEAL 03-02-09

A TV show screened on BBC3 last week and still available to view on BBC iplayer proved pretty conclusively what RAM has always said in the pay section of the Guidelines - that very few people would be happy (to say the least) about appearing naked in front of a class.

The show took the form of a confidence-building course, as a group of five professionals undertook a series of challenges designed to help their self-esteem. At the end of the show the five were tested by seeing who had gained enough confidence from the course to pose nude for a life class.

RAM official Rachel McCarthy had spent some time coaching the five beauticians for their daunting task, but it was painfully obvious that getting their kit off was a very big deal indeed for them, leading to tears and, in a couple of cases, refusals to be completely naked. No wonder life modelling is one of the few jobs the benefits people don't expect you to accept.

Of course, as our Guidelines point out, being prepared to be naked in public is only one of the reasons, along with skill, dedication and the right sort of personality, why life models should be able to earn rather more than they do, but the fact that the prospect of doing the job strikes terror into the hearts of most people should be one of your strongest points when battling, RAM Guidelines in hand, for better remuneration.



LIZANNE IS THE GODDESS OF THE NORTH 16-12-08

RAM model Lizanne Tulip is the model for a spectacular new landmark in the north-east of England.

Northumberlandia or 'The Goddess of the North' is a massive feature designed by world renowned artist and architect Charles Jencks. It is intended to celebrate the Earth's natural power and the human ability to reshape landscape into a dramatic form and is due for completion by 2012.

Lying at the entrance to south east Northumberland, near the town of Cramlington, the Goddess will be up to 30 metres high and ½km in length. Northumberlandia will be the centrepiece for a 25 hectare public park in the urban fringe between the rolling countryside of mid Northumberland and the urban areas of south east Northumberland and Newcastle-upon-Tyne to the south.

This extraordinary piece of public art will be made from some two million tonnes of soil and clay from Shotton opencast mine. The Banks Group, which will operate the mine, and Blagdon Estate, which own the land, have commissioned Charles Jencks. He will use the resources made available by the mining operations to create the new landform.

According to Jencks "Northumberlandia does not relate to a particular goddess or religion, it is a landscape which incorporates references to the human body towards which we have a natural empathy. The landform can be enjoyed in parts and within many different contexts including the distant landscape, the causeways, lakes and willow islands, and viewing pavilions."



EISTEDDFOD BOOST FOR RAM 12-11-08

The National Eisteddfod of Wales is one of the major annual events of the European arts calendar. It is held in a different part of Wales each year. In 2010 it will be held in Ebbw Vale, home of RAM, where it has not been held since 1958. A major feature of this great festival is the visual arts pavilion. In 2010, prizes totalling at least £15,000 will be awarded for works of art, which can include photography and moving image.

So where does RAM come in? Well, Vic Stevens of RAM has been appointed Chair of the Visual Arts Sub-Committee of the 2010 Eisteddfod, and two other Permanent Members of RAM, Angela Snowdon and Margaret Bryony, are also on the committee. In fact, RAM makes up half the committee as it is currently constituted, although more people will be invited to join us later.

One of our tasks is to attract submissions of work for the show, which will be in August 2010. Works to be shown will be chosen by a selection panel.

Snags? Well, you have to have some connection with Wales. If you are Welsh or of Welsh parentage, or if you will have lived continuously in Wales for at least three years by the time of the show, or if you can speak Welsh, you qualify to submit work - any amount of it. For more information, contact us.



The old myths return 12-11-08

Now and again over the years the rumour has spread among models who are not members of RAM that you have to pay to audition for London membership. This is generally coupled with the equally erroneous notion that we are some kind of agency.

The fact is that an employment agency would have had the London life modelling scene sewn up years ago had it not been for the existence of RAM. For most London members, the £30 a year RAM membership fee has just got to be a better bet than paying 10 per cent of all earnings to an agency. Few London models realize that we are in a very powerful position to convert to an agency ourselves, should we choose to abandon our founding principles.

Payment upfront is something that no reputable agency would demand. On the other hand, upfront payment (well, not quite upfront, actually) of the annual membership fee of a group such as RAM, which is not an agency and does NOT include finding work for anyone among its published aims, is perfectly normal.

You would either have to be the sort of person who shoots his mouth off without bothering to check the facts, or have malicious intent to claim that the RAM fee is either an upfront payment of commission to an agency or a fee for auditioning. Hopefully, the latest round of idle rumour-mongering will subside as quickly as the previous ones have done.



SOS !! 31-10-08

HELP - something (no doubt the 'credit crunch') has hit the famous Bare Facts drop-in life drawing workshops at the Islington Arts Factory in Holloway, North London. The weekly sessions have been going for 16 years and were the birthplace of RAM/Bare Facts.

Although Bare Facts now operates independently of RAM, we still rely heavily on them to audition models for RAM membership, and the IAF venue is the most important London auditioning place.

The problem is that attendances by the artists have suddenly dropped off dramatically at a time of year when they usually pick up (mirroring the whole economy, in fact).

We appeal to all former regulars at the workshops to try to put in an appearance at least now and again (this includes you prison officers from across the road who used to attend !).

At the same time we would like to draw the workshops to the attention of artists who live within reach of Holloway but have not yet been to the Bare Facts sessions. Please see the Bare Facts advertisement on the affiliated workshops page.

The workshop has a unique place in the history of life art in the UK and it is vital for the wellbeing of RAM and Bare Facts in London to keep it going.



George Farkas 11-09-08

We are very sad to have to announce the death of George Farkas, who taught life drawing and pottery for many years in the adult education service of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. George was exceptionally popular, both with his students and with the many RAM models (including your webmaster), who worked with him over the years. George was among that select band of life drawing tutors who have a genuine love of the subject, as distinct from those who teach it because it's part of the available work. Models, of course, can always tell the difference.

There was great variety in any life drawing course taught by George and he would always choose models very carefully for specific parts of the course. For example, I was always the choice for what I used to call the 'wild leaping-about stuff'. You finished the session feeling that you'd done a heavy workout in the gym, but you always wanted to push yourself that much further for George, who was full of praise for every one of his regular models. He never tired of telling us how much he appreciated our work. One the other hand, his strong belief in RAM ensured that if ever he tried someone new to him who fell short of his (and RAM's) standards, he didn't hesitate to report them to us.

He supported RAM in our early shoestring days with a number of donations (as did a few other other tutors and models), attended our own life drawing workshops as an artist and once or twice taught unpaid on our stand at the annual Artists & Illustrators Exhibition. He hectored Hammersmith & Fulham council into agreeing to a 40 per cent pay rise for models and did his best to encourage them to employ only RAM members for life classes across the borough. On top of this, the substantial collections he coaxed from his students 'for the model's fares' were legendary. They may have been against the rules, but George was not going to be deterred by that. The life art scene in London has lost an enthusiastic, innovative and concerned supporter. continued
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Leeds ends life drawing provision 18-09-08

Leeds College of Art & Design, which has several thousand students, has reportedly just withdrawn life drawing from its curriculum and has closed the purpose-built life drawing studio that opened just two years ago. Tutors are said to be furious that life drawing, which they see as the basis of all art, has been scrapped in favour of something called Design Technology.



Models of the Year 12-09-08

For the second year running we have conducted a poll to find the RAM members who seem to be most popular with our licence-holding employers. Predictably, the percentage replying was rather disappointing, but the good thing about the result is that so many members were nominated - it's certainly not the case that only a few RAM members are highly rated by employers.

Of course, this happy result puts us in a spot. The votes were spread so widely this year that we would have to have a ridiculous number of runners-up. We've therefore decided not to declare any runners-up. Instead, EVERYONE who was nominated will have the fact mentioned in their profiles. A happy coincidence that partially makes up for lack of runners-up is that there happen to be two joint winners.

This year, in every case where employers added 'testimonials' to their nominations, quotes from them will be added to profiles. But this will be a long, long process, as there were a lot of testimonials, so please be patient!

The two joint RAM Models of the Year are KEVIN FEIGHERY and - for the second year running - RACHEL WELCH.

Congratulations to both of you and many thanks for being great ambassadors for RAM.



Beating the filters 15-07-08

Ever since porn filters, family filters, or whatever you want to call them became common on the computer systems of schools, colleges and public libraries, RAM has suffered from the great disadvantage of having our website banned from most of those establishments.

Tutors and other model bookers are usually obliged to access our website from home - those who have their own computers, that is. The rest have great difficulty booking RAM models, especially as we have long since stopped mailing out a printed membership list. We have suffered this state of affairs for year, because we have always imagined that you couldn't possibly have a website about life modelling if you cut out all the words that lead the filters to believe this is an 'adult' site. We have said many times that it's a simple matter for employers to set their filters to allow our site through, but most of them won't do it, or don't know how.

Well, one day recently we suddenly realised that it's perfectly possible to ban those words from the site. So when you see strangely old-fashioned words and phrases such as 'undraped', 'without clothes' etc, you'll know they are there because the more obvious words are now banned. It will take a long time to make sure we have completely purged the site of the offending words, and many filters don't re-check sites once they have banned them. If you work in a school, college or public library, we would be most grateful for your feedback as to whether or not your can now access the site from those places (if you couldn't before, that is).



Pay problems on the increase 20-06-08

RAM has always owned up to the fact that we were responsible for the big Inland Revenue clampdown in the 1990s, which spelled the end of cash-in-hand payment of models in colleges. Our motive in pointing out to the Revenue that life modelling was part of the 'Black Economy' was simple. We wanted to end the situation in which the job was seen as (and sometimes was) the last resort of people desperate to get hold of a little cash in a hurry (a college principal once told an astonished tutor that life modelling was obviously "the last step before prostitution").

These desperate people were not usually good and reliable models, and we largely succeeded in removing them from the scene by making cash-in-hand payment much less available. However, we weren't expecting the Revenue to refuse to accept life modelling as a means of self-employment altogether. Self-employment 'through the books' was what we were seeking. Nor were we expecting the even more bizarre reaction of most colleges to the new ruling, which was to devise a system of meaningless 'casual PAYE' contracts which meant that the models would legally be employees, while in reality still being freelance casual workers. Freelance but not self-employed!

The system has led to confusion among models, college staff - and the Revenue itself. Also, while the Revenue insists that models are not self-employed, the benefits people often insist that we are - between them, they want it both ways! It's not surprising that RAM gets a lot of complaints about payment muddles - payments being delayed by months, or not being made at all, wrong amounts and, increasingly, documents going astray. Only the other day, yet another RAM member reported that all the documents and personal details required by University of the Arts London (after she had worked at their Central St Martin's site) appear to have been lost. In an age when we are constantly being warned about identity theft, this is totally unacceptable. Our message to the employers is that if you are going to persist with this dreadful method of employing models (and you almost certainly are, as employing people properly is not in your interests), you should at least ensure that the staff of your wages and salaries departments are capable of coping with it.



Great British Body 06-06-08

It has to be admitted that the latest offering in the long and tedious obsession with showing naked 'ordinary people' on television was at least rather clever, and certainly dramatic. ITV's Great British Body series culminated on 4th June with two gigantic horizontal 'sculptures' on the South Downs, one of a man, the other of a woman. They were formed out of about 150 naked people of all shapes and sizes, with men and women mixed up together.

The first sign that it was proving difficult to find enough participants came when the producers placed an ad - hopelessly too late - on this website. In fact when the morning arrived, as the programme itself showed, there was great panic on the part of the presenters, because people were so slow to arrive. Eventually they got just about enough people, apparently by putting out an urgent appeal on local radio, even as the thing was being set up. Much was then made of the reluctance, second-thoughts, shyness and embarrassment when the time came to strip. There was an awful lot of giggling.

So why are we bothering to report all this nonsense here? Well, because it proves that in 2008, getting your clothes off in public is still a very big deal for the vast majority of people, and the idea of seeing other people doing it is exciting and naughty enough to attract huge viewing figures. Very sad, but true. And that has always been one of our arguments (and there are several others) why life models should be well paid - it's not a job that people in general can be expected to do. Even so, this argument and all the others for maintaining a reasonable level of pay against inflation is being rapidly undermined by websites where anyone at all is welcome to advertise themselves as a model. While it will remain true that only a tiny percentage of the public as a whole is prepared to appear naked in public, there are now more people offering themselves as life models than there is work to go round. This particularly affects male models.

Many people are against RAM because of what they see as our 'exclusivity'. But good and reliable models with a professional attitude need to encourage, not attack, the idea that RAM members should get the lion's share of the available work, otherwise before long, none of the arguments for increasing pay in line with inflation will stand up any more.
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London average reaches £11ph 24-04-08

The RAM continuous pay survey is now showing that the average hourly rate for models in London is approaching £11 per hour. In fact, it may be higher that that, because very few models bother to tell us when and where rates are increased. Unfortunately, that has the effect of helping to keep rates down, as many employers take our survey into consideration when reviewing pay, but they are always working with slightly out-of-date information. Well, it's up to you!

Anyway, the fact is that even if the figure is not an underestimate, it's pretty good going. Since RAM started to publish a target figure (the 'RAM Recommended Rate') in 1997, average pay in London has increased by about 85%. If you compare this with teachers (44%), police officers (42%) and nurses (58%), you can see why we have not felt like pushing too hard over the past 3 or 4 years.

Even so, there's no room for complacency. The situation is not so good outside London, where RAM has less influence. And even in London, there are still some employers offering insulting rates. Also, the impact of non-RAM websites where anyone can advertise themselves as models is beginning to be felt. We are sliding backwards a few decades to the dark days when life modelling was not taken seriously because it was all too easy for anyone at all to get the jobs and as a result, high standards of competence, conduct and reliability were not expected. Our achievements over the years could so easily be undone.

If you are not a RAM member or licence-holding employer, you can view the summary of the survey here. Members and licence-holders can see the full details in their own password-protected areas.



Naming names 24-04-08

The RAM continuous pay survey is now showing that the average hourly rate for models in London is approaching £11 per hour. In fact, it may be higher that that, because very few models bother to tell us when and where rates are increased. Unfortunately, that has the effect of helping to keep rates down, as many employers take our survey into consideration when reviewing pay, but they are always working with slightly out-of-date information. Well, it's up to you!

Anyway, the fact is that even if the figure is not an underestimate, it's pretty good going. Since RAM started to publish a target figure (the 'RAM Recommended Rate') in 1997, average pay in London has increased by about 85%. If you compare this with teachers (44%), police officers (42%) and nurses (58%), you can see why we have not felt like pushing too hard over the past 3 or 4 years.

Even so, there's no room for complacency. The situation is not so good outside London, where RAM has less influence. And even in London, there are still some employers offering insulting rates. Also, the impact of non-RAM websites where anyone can advertise themselves as models is beginning to be felt. We are sliding backwards a few decades to the dark days when life modelling was not taken seriously because it was all too easy for anyone at all to get the jobs and as a result, high standards of competence, conduct and reliability were not expected. Our achievements over the years could so easily be undone.

If you are not a RAM member or licence-holding employer, you can view the summary of the survey here. Members and licence-holders can see the full details in their own password-protected areas.



Naming names 24-04-08

Now and again a RAM licence-holder will ask us why such-and-such a model is not registered with us. Usually, we don't know why, but when it is because a model has been refused membership or has his or her membership withdrawn we will always say. What we have not done before is publish the names of those models. In some cases will we now do so, just because their names crop up very often. We have not decided yet whether to publish them in this public area of the site, but we have now done so in the licence-holders' private area. Another reason to apply or a RAM licence!



Rachel, John and Anna move on 06-03-08

Art collector Anthony d'Offay has sold his collection of works, said to be worth £125,000,000 to Tate Modern and to the National Gallery of Scotland. The collection is vast and includes many notable works by the 'hyperrealist' sculptor Ron Mueck. Ron has used a number of RAM models, most notably for Pregnant Woman (Anna Barnes, who was NOT really pregnant), Big Man (John Lloyd) and Spooning Couple (Rachel McCarthy).
Ron Mueck, Couple spooning
Contrary to the common belief, Ron doesn't attempt to make exact copies of the bodies or faces of his models, he mainly uses them for inspiration. So the characters portrayed, though unnervingly realistic are to a considerable extent imaginary. Models who have worked for Ron are in the privileged position of knowing quite a lot about his techniques. In fact he's very happy to explain them to models, but the critics are left in the dark!



Italian Life models on strike 19-01-08

Life models in Italy have once again taken industrial action over meaningless short-term contracts and poor pay. Every time models go on strike in Italy they achieve something. In fact, the rate of pay is already substantially higher, on average, than the average rate in Britain. The colleges and schools there are making the same old threat that we have always heard here - that if they have to pay more, there will be less work to go round.

As far as Britain is concerned, there may be a grain of truth in that argument, but the fact is that a reduction in the total amount of work available doesn't have to mean less work for RAM members. It's just a case of trying to ensure that more employers are inclined to favour RAM registered models when making their bookings. But most RAM members don't even talk to the people who hire them about RAM, and that brings us to the huge weakness in the UK modelling scene, as shown up by the Italians - the lack of solidarity. In RAM we discovered in our earliest days that the idea of taking industrial action in Britain was a joke. Models here just don't have that sense of worker solidarity. They used to have it, and there were indeed successful strikes in the 1920s and 30s.

These days, most models who join RAM do so purely because they imagine (often correctly) that they will get more work as a result. In fact, many members now see RAM as nothing more than just another website for getting work, and they tend to regard themselves as customers rather than members. To some extent we've found it unwise to try to swim too hard against the tide of what models expect of us. After all, the customer is always right! However, that doesn't stop us from remembering our roots and wishing our more professionally-minded colleagues elswhere in Europe every success. They deserve it.

Times report



New Bare Facts Workshop opens 11-12-07

The first Bare Facts London life drawing workshop opened in Holloway in the early 90s, and is still going strong (although only one day a week instead of two these days). But quite a few others have come and gone in the meantime- Spitalfields, Clapham, Camden Town, Richmond. It's now quite a few years since a new one was started, but Rachel McCarthy of Bare Facts is confident that the latest Bare Facts venture in Ladbroke Grove will be a lasting success. For details go to the workshops page.

It's worth reminding employers that Bare Facts also offers a model booking service - go here for details.



Life-casting horror - again 20-04-07

An anonymous visitor to the site has brought to our attention yet another incident involving life casting, or body casting as it is generally referred to on this site, this time involving a 16 year-old girl. You can see the BBC news item about it here. We are very surprised that plaster of paris is still being used, rather than the much safer alternative, alginate. Perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised, as alginate is very expensive, plaster of paris is relatively cheap - the same reason that some employers still insist on using harmful white spirit instead of fume free alternatives.

There has been at least one death in the past from the unskilled use of plaster of paris for life casting, which is why we warn models not to agree to it unless the person doing it can prove that he or she is fully skilled in the process. We may now wish to go a further, but e are waiting for the Health & Safety Executive to suggest ways we can help. In the meantime we will amend our usual warning about life casting to suggest that our members don't accept jobs unless at all unless alginate is to be used. After all, it's hardly new-fangled - some of us were cast in the stuff 15 years ago or more.