• Andy Scaysbrook

"Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum?" asked the Guerrilla Girls in 1989.

The self-styled "conscience of the art world" asked and answered the same question in their first colour poster, which remains their most iconic image.

It noted that less than 5% of the modern artists shown there were women but 85% of the nudes on display were female.

Feminism, combined with financial constraints and faith in conceptual art, has helped erase life drawing from the core curriculum at most major art schools.

Life model Sophie Larter, who is in her early 50s, is working hard to put flesh and bones back on display in the classroom.

Far from feeling objectified by the business of baring all, the married mum-of-two from Crewkerne feels positively empowered by it.

"I particularly enjoy stepping out of well-known paintings, taking classic images and subverting them, confronting artists with other possibilities," she said.

Sophie's father was a potter and her mother was a landscape artist and they had a life-drawing room in their house when she was growing up.

So she feels like she has come home, in a way, since taking up life modelling professionally 10 years ago.

She got a degree in art history, film and design but had no real plan to follow in her parents' artistic footsteps, doing many different jobs over the years.

After having children, she returned to college in Taunton in 2011 to start a foundation course in art and design and got on well with the life model.

The model encouraged Sophie to pose and she's never looked back. "It just started to happen from there. There was no formal training for this!"

Tragically, Sophie's dad committed suicide when she was a teenager and her mum passed away in 2019 but she said her job keeps her connected to them.

"I feel very close to both my parents because of what I do, when I am working I am in their world," she said.

Evolver caught up with Sophie when she was modelling at Abbotsbury Studio, a delightful teaching space and gallery run by artist and tutor John Meaker.

Like Sophie, John is a passionate advocate of life drawing and the pair agree "posture with attitude" is the key to a model's success, particularly for short poses.

John admits he is unable to pay Sophie what he believes she deserves and she knows she won't get rich being a life model but there are other rewards.

"My husband works so the family does not rely on my income but it has given me independence as a woman," she reflected.

"I've been very privileged to work with kids, many from difficult backgrounds who are going through all sorts of things, including gender transition."

Like all of us, Sophie would like to see more female artists on the walls of the world's finest galleries.

However, if she got into The Metropolitan Museum of Art as a nude, she would be very proud.

For more information, contact or, for courses and classes, visit

Photography Andy Scaysbrook- Words by Emma J Pittard

The original article appeared in this months edition of Evolver Magazine

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