a very singular and very good life model
By Kate Underwood
I have very vivid memories of Quentin Crisp , although of course we had no idea who he was at the time……just a very singular and very good life model! He was always very quiet , very reserved ,and the only thing he would ever say to us was at the break, whilst resting in his dressing -gown: ‘If you go down & buy me a coffee , I’ll buy you one …. so he didn’t have to go downstairs to the Refectory or get dressed again !
Naked Civil Servant
Later, when I saw ‘ The Naked Civil Servant’ on T.V, in the court scene , I realised why …..his defence was, as an ‘effeminate homosexual’, that he had learned to ‘keep your head down , not speak to anyone unless you were spoken to,’ etc . , so as not to attract trouble. And so, even as far on as 1973-4 when he modelled for us at St . Albans School of Art , he was still doing this !
Hat and a silk scarf
He usually wore a rather chunky grey/brown Harris Tweed type suit , 2 or 3 piece , quite conservative & ‘country gentleman ‘ , with a large triby-type hat …..always a hat ……., and silk scarf . This tweedy suit was innocuous with his wavy permed hair that was a lavender hue ,his black eyeliner and pink pearly nail-varnish . Some of the boy students used to snigger at him behind his back , calling him ‘an old Queen ‘, and I thought they were unkind. I bet they are not sniggering now!
St Albans School of Art
He was a great life model , very flexible and able to hold a pose for ages . …especially when you think he was getting quite elderly even then! He wore a small posing -pouch and was very professional . Arnold Van Praag , our Fine Art tutor , sometimes got him to do ‘Classical ‘ poses , i.e . ‘the discus thrower ‘, with a prop discus…. and sometimes he made him do rapid poses with increasingly quick changes of pose, until we were just ‘capturing’ him in a wiggly line ! I still have some pencil life drawings I did of him mouldering in the attic somewhere. I wish I could say they are worth a fortune now!!!!
I didn’t know of his impending fame until, in 1974 , I went to the annual Show at the Royal College, and said to one of the exhibitors , seeing her drawings ‘oh , you have the same model as us!’ She replied ‘yes , he’s getting quite famous now ….he’s written a book!’ So I sought out and bought ‘The Naked Civil Servant’, amazed ….and then was even more amazed to see it on t.v. and John Hurt’s remarkable portrayal of him.