Art Macabre

Art Macabre

Art Macabre's Death Drawing Salons: Out of the Shadows, Circus of Skeletons.


Art Macabre resurrect the fun and playfulness of putting pencil to paper through London’s only “death drawing” salons. RIP memories of boring drawing classes as events producer Nikki Shaill, aka ghostly host Raven Rouge, invites you to try your hand at skeletal sketching. Believing passionately that everyone can enjoy experimenting with drawing given the right inspiration, Art Macabre’s nocturnal ring-mistress aims to inject a lethal dose of theatricality, curiosity and the macabre into life drawing and encourages you to brandish an artistic weapon of choice and make some killer marks.


From film noir to folk rituals, Nikki concocts different themes for each event that take a macabre yet playful, sometimes serious and more often humorous, look at death and the darker side of life. Founded on All Hallow’s Eve in 2010, evolving from Ladyfest Ten’s DIY feminist drawing events, Art Macabre developed in response to a demand for drawing events that presented a more diverse variety of models. From the start, the events focussed on allowing models to express their unique character as they posed, whether through sharing their hidden talents or baring their secret tattoos for the participants’ drawing delight. Narrative, costumes and props have become increasingly elaborate and important features of the events and tableaux.


Amongst the hundreds of models who have been involved over the past two years, are mime artist duos, roller derby athletes, circus clowns, yoga practitioners and morris dancers. The oldest model posed with her teeth out, and props range from pig’s hearts and chocolate banquets, to leopard skulls and taxidermy chickens. Movement and dynamic poses have been explored through models suspended by Japanese rope bondage, Mexican wrestlers competing in railway tunnels and dance from the ancient practice of Butoh to voguing.  


Monthly salons are held at Cass Art (London’s largest art store and long-term sponsor of the salons), with additional seasonal special events and developing collaborations such an upcoming event with Museum of London. Salons have been held in Parisian cafes, outdoors at Urban Physic Garden, Playgroup Festival’s Cabinet of Curiosity and Crick Crack Club’s festival of fairytales.


As an events producer and arts programmer, Nikki aspires to continually create the kind of cultural experiences that she would like to attend; participatory, inclusive, original, multi-sensory, provocative and nurturing of creativity in its widest and wildest forms.