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About Us

Dominic Blake is a London based art writer and theorist whose work concerning the life model is located at the core of an emerging art historical debate.  His ongoing lecture series ‘Are Life Models Artists?’ has featured at The National Gallery, University of Cambridge and Royal College of Art.  A life model at the Royal Academy of Arts since 2014, he is currently completing a translation of his lecture series into a monograph (2026).  Blake has written essays featuring within exhibition catalogues and symposia and has authored chapters in two forthcoming, edited publications about the Bloomsbury Group artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell (2024/6).  



'Dominic Blake's work is located at the core of an emerging art historical debate about the role of the life model' - Royal College of Art

'There is an emerging interest in the broader culture of investigating and revaluing the role of the life model in art practice.  In the U.K., this has been led by Dominic Blake' - Dr. Aurélie Debaene, Aesthetics Research Centre, University of Kent

'Blake's advocacy of a new way of viewing the life model is inspirational' - Jo Baring, Director, The Ingram Collection

'Dominic Blake's National Gallery lecture, Symbiosis through Sitting, fundamentally altered my understanding of portraiture' - Dr. Harriet O'Neill, Public Courses and Programming Manager, The National Gallery


The Drawing Foundation/ The Courtauld Institute, 'Are Life Models Artists?', lecture, June 2024

University of Cambridge, 'The Renaissance Nude', lecture, September 2024 

The Warburg Institute, 'Are Life Models Artists?', lecture, September 2024

Swedenborg House, 'Are Life Models Artists?', lecture and panel discussion, September 2024

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 'Pasquarosa: From Muse to Painter', lecture, April 2024

V&A:  'Subverting Beauty: The Greek and Roman body and Donatello', short talk (in tandem with the exhibition Donatello: New Perspectives), March 23 

University of Leeds School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies:  'Are Life Models Artists?', March 2023

University of Cambridge Faculty of Classics, 'Are Life Models Artists?', lecture, February 2023 at the Museum of Classical Archaeology.

The National Gallery, 'Symbiosis through Sitting', January 2023

The National Gallery, 'Dominic Blake in conversation with Matthew Morgan' (director, Turner's House Museum), January 2023

Mall Galleries, 'Are Life Models Artists?', (date TBC, 2023)

Aesthetics Research Centre, University of Kent:  'Revaluing the Life Model in Art Practice', symposium, co-curator with Dr. Aurélie Debaene, May 2022.​

University of Kent, 'Are Life Models Artists (or Mercenary Drawing Instruments?)', lecture, May 2022.

Royal College of Art, 'Are Life Models Artists?' February 2022

Middlesex University London, 'Are Life Models Artists?', April 2022

Royal College of Art, 'Are Life Models Artists?' February 2020

The National Gallery, 'Are Life Models Artists?', 2019

Hampstead School of Art, 'Are Life Models Artists?', 2019

Mall Galleries, 'Are Life Models Artists?', 2019


The Drawing Foundation / The Courtauld Institute: Kat Chimonides, Fleur Blüm, Asako Saito and Dominic Blake in conversation, June 2024

Estorick Collection, 'Pasquarosa: From Muse to Painter:  Kate Wilson and Dominic Blake in conversation in response to the exhibition', April 2024

V&A: The Body Beautiful | Panel Discussion: Dominic Blake in conversation with Whiskey Chow, moderated by Dan Vo in response to the exhibition 'Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance', March 2023


'Are Life Models Artists?'  (translation of lecture series of the same name, with generous assistance from The Charleston Trust), due for publication in 2025/6

'Bloomsbury and Social Justice', chapter about the life and work of Duncan Grant, due for publication in 2026. Ed's. Prof. Drew Shannon and Oliver Case

'Meditations on Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Charleston', book, Night Bird Press, September. 2024, 

'Model and Artist in One Body', chapter, exhibition catalogue for Charleston's 2021 retrospective of Nina Hamnett. Co-authored with Dr. Aurélie Debaene

'Are Life Models Artists (or Mercenary Drawing Instruments?)', paper, delivered at the University of Kent's Aesthetics Research Centre, May 2022


Apollo Magazine, The Charleston Press, Aesthetica Magazine, KScope Music, Art for All Magazine, HSoA Blog


In 2016, I conceived a novel art historical theory grounded in my experiences working as a life model at the Royal Academy of Arts, which I wrote about and first discussed in a lecture series, 'Are Life Models Artists?' at institutions including The National Gallery, the Royal College of Art and Mall Galleries and most recently at the University of Cambridge, the University of Leeds and at the V&AExamining life modelling through art historical and experiential perspectives I explore the existential realms within which the practice exists.  While not claiming in an absolute sense that modelling is an art form, I advocate a more enlightened perspective according to which it might become one within the realm of performance art or contemporary dance according to the determining factors of motivation and context.  'Are Life Models Artists?' is an ongoing enquiry, the seismic impact of the pandemic has fundamentally altered the calculus upon which our understanding of the life model is based.

While undertaking research for 'Are Life Models Artists?', I interviewed the directors of several major galleries, museums and private collections, practicing artists, life models and curators to gain their insight.  Included within the group of interviewees was Sir Christopher Le Brun, Past President, Royal Academy of Arts; Simon Martin, Director, Pallant House Gallery; Jo Baring, Director, The Ingram Collection; Lara Wardle, Director Curator, The Jerwood Collection; Gill Saunders, Senior Curator, V&A Department of Word and Image; JJ Delvine, Artist (BP Portrait Award 2018, 2011, 2006); Suzon Lagarde, Portrait Artist and life model and Robin George, life model.  I am also indebted to Dr. Darren Clarke, Head of Collections and Research at The Charleston Trust; Professor Jean Wainwright, Professor Carrie Vout (director, the Museum of Classical Archaeology) and the RCA for their support.

In May 2022 I co-curated a symposium at the University of Kent's Aesthetics Research Centre with Dr. Aurélie Debaene, within which the theories I conceived and advanced in my lecture series 'Are Life Models Artists?' and associated issues that emerged out of Dr. Debaene's independent research, were explored.  Our successful application to the British Society of Aesthetics received generous funding in 2019.  I delivered a paper, 'Are Life Models Artists (or Mercenary Drawing Instruments?)' which was an abridged version of my forthcoming book of the same name.  Prominent members of the academic and artistic communities participated through panel discussions and lectures including Jo Baring, Professor Jean Wainwright, Dr. Anna Pakes, Professor Anne Eaton,  Anne Noble-Partridge and JJ Delvine.


Natural habitat:  The Royal Academy's Life Room

I have worked as a life model for over a decade at the Royal Academy within courses focusing on experimental drawing, performative art, anatomical drawing, expressive portraiture, digital drawing and Renaissance art.  I also work regularly within the Friends and Academicians Life Drawing group and within drawing courses delivered by RA Schools in conjunction with Apple, Burberry and the Henry Moore Foundation.  In addition I  have modelled within private events for RA Patrons and Trustees, and for the attRAct programme.   I am featured within two Royal Academy publications:  'Artists Working From Life', which accompanied the RA's 2018 exhibition of the same name, and 'A Little History of the Royal Academy'.  Following a pause due to the pandemic, I returned to the RA in late September 2021.  


I specialise in creating complex, dynamic gestural forms that are interesting to draw, paint, photograph and sculpt.  Included among the people I have worked with are Eileen Cooper (RA), Cathie Pilkington (RA), Maggi Hambling, David Caldwell (RP), Sam Dalby (RP), Robin Lee-Hall (PPRP), Alastair Adams,, JJ Delvine, Adele Wagstaff & Andrew James (RP).



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