The name’s Bondage…James Bondage…

We’re excited to announce our next Hackney Attic film themed event to take place on Weds 9 April. The theme’s espionage, as we pay a loving, tongue-in-cheek tribute to our favourite classic British spy films in a special edition of Art Macabre Death Drawing…



Meet James Bondage, aka secret agent 00HB. A top British spy with a license to thrill and spill blood. Grab a martini from the bar and an artistic weapon of choice, ready to to capture a cast of sketchy characters in your drawings; from camptastic baddies to femme fatales.
Art Macabre present an evening of “death drawing” – life drawing injected with a lethal dose of action and curiosity- paying homage to classic espionage films.
Sketch the most iconic demises and dodgy disguises, as our nude and costumed models pose to an explosive soundtrack of dramatic theme music. Plus, of course, there’ll be gadgets, girls and pussies galore!
Weds 9 April, 8-10pm
Doors from 7.30pm
Over 18s only. Features nudity.
Tickets £12 in advance via Hackney Picturehouse Box Office,  £15 on the door.
Bring paper/sketchpad – drawing materials provided (pencils, charcoal, drawing boards).


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FUNERAL MARCH…events coming up next month

JOIN US ON A JOURNEY AROUND THE WORLD? WE’RE EXPLORING DEATH RITES, MACABRE MYTHOLOGY AND NECRO NARRATIVES THROUGHOUT THE GLOBE THROUGH DRAWING THIS MARCHArt Macabre are declaring next month ‘Funeral March‘. We’ve got lots of events coming up that will look at the diverse ways in which cultures around the world celebrate and commemorate death. Exploring festivals in India to Japan, Venice to New Orleans, plus we’re also sailing the seven seas for our Dead Sea special too! Come aboard the good ship Death Drawing with us?

@ THE BOOK CLUB, SHOREDITCH EC2Launch of our new GLOBAL CURIOSITIES series, every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, at The Book Club bar and cultural space.We explore the darker side of Japanese festivals, folklore and funerary traditions. We mark ‘Hina Matsuri’, Shinto’s Japanese Doll Festival, with a model posing in traditional Japanese costume and nude amongst demon-possessed paper dolls.

Plus the Japanese folklore of ‘Gashadokuru’ – giant skeletons made of the bones starved humans- and Shinamari spirits. All to the sounds of a haunting Japanese soundtrack.

Tickets £10 each, including all drawing materials provided.


@ THE PROUD ARCHIVIST, EAST LONDONIndulge in a feast of masqueraded models, colourful carnival costume and tasty pancakes from The Proud Archivist kitchen at our Fat Tuesday special celebration!Poses will take inspiration from traditional Mardi Gras festivities around the globe, as well as the theme of Masquerade, such as Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘Masque of the Red Death’ story. It’ll be quite a spectacle to sketch! Featuring our own twist on macabre Mardi Gras masks and mystery.

Three types of tasty pancakes available from The Proud Archivist kitchen to feast on, as well as your choice of beers, wines and spirits to indulge in before Lent begins…


TUESDAY 11 MARCH, 8-10pm

@ CASS ART, ISLINGTON N1Evil sirens, macabre mermaids and shipwrecked sailors will pose on their deathly sea beds at our nautical themed special.Waving goodbye to boring drawing and join us on an artistic voyage to the depths of the ocean, to explore the beauty, power and perils of the sea. Inspired by the exhibition Turner & The Sea, currently showing at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

Dare to draw near and capture the allure of our devilishly dark mermaids amongst a treasure trove of bones, shells and pearls. Explore the legend of the Kraken, the deadliest of mythical maritime beasts!




Our deadly destination on our global tour of the curious this time is INDIA, with a specific focus on Hindu imagery and deities.Meet KALI- the goddess of death and destruction- a fierce and powerful Hindu deity who our model will pose portraying for you to capture. We’ll explore classic portrayals of this dark goddess, such as Kali becoming drunk on the blood of her victims on the battlefield. Expect dynamic poses and lots of blue bodypaint!
Plus we mark the Spring festival of colour, HOLI, with an explosion of bright pigmented powder paint decorating our nude model’s body for you to capture in your artwork. Play with colour, chalk and pastels as we present a riot of colour.


We’re really excited to confirm that Art Macabre’s founder and director Nikki Shaill will lead a session as part of DEATH SALON UK on Saturday 12 April at Barts Pathology Museum. Three days encouraging conversation on mortality and mourning, featuring many speakers and experts from around the UK and USA. We can’t wait to be part of it on the final day.
Cass Art are our primary sponsor. Choose from the world’s top quality art materials and get everything you need for a creative 2014 from the UK’s leading art supplies retailer.
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Bloody Valentines…

Love is in the air, whether you like it or loathe it, and we’re setting out to prove this week with our double-date of 2 different Valentines themed events that romance ain’t dead but needn’t be reduced to crappy cards and red rose cliches…



We invite you to embrace darker desires and Gothic romance with us. Reclaim St Valentine’s for all it’s curious and eccentric potential! Here to inspire you are some gems we found in the vaults, taking inspiration from Victorian Valentine’s and romantic gestures. As Cher puts it so well- Love hurts. But it’s bloody hell, it’s darn good when it’s good too…

Here are some ideas for spreading the madness that is love this week:


Queen Vic and her Prince Charming were crazy in love til the very end. Nobody knew how to mourn lost love quite like her and the levels of their displays of adoration are pretty darn inspiring to this day (just go and see the Albert Memorial that HRH had built if you need convincing).

Albert bestowed upon his true love elaborate love tokens, including jewellery made of hair and teeth. Necklaces and brooches crafted from the teeth of stags that he’d hunted on Balmoral Estate were given as elaborate gestures of love. Might give you some ideas for an original gift for your beau, perhaps?

A love token of a necklace featuring the teeth of stags which Prince Albert had hunted

A little less macabre, for the more traditional/animal-loving amongst you, are paper love tokens, as made popular with the Victorians.

A token of love in the 19th century was the paper hand, symbolising courtship, along with tiny paper gloves or real gloves given as gifts. The giving of a glove could be used as a symbol of proposal to a lady. Want to make your own paper hand love token? We’ll show you how to create your own paper hand love tokens on Tuesday 11th February, as part of our ROMANCE IS DEAD event @ Hackney Attic. You can take yours home to give to a loved one.

“If that from Glove, you take the letter G,Then Glove is Love and that I  send to thee.”

Or perhaps you want to make the object of your affections work a little harder than this riddle to work out what you’re trying to convey to them this February 14th? In which case, take the lead from this creative hieroglyphics card?

Or a paper puzzle love token, as popular in the 19th century? Remember making similar treats at school? A ‘magical folding technique’ enabled this to be folded into a secure packet that once opened, is difficult to reassemble. The folds are numbered, and as opened, gradually reveal separate images and poems. The prize at the centre is often a romantic image or poem, and perhaps — a special memento such as a ring or a lock of hair.

HUMAN HAIR played an important part in love tokens and symbols of love exchanged between Victorians. The most personal token you can perhaps give to someone, human hair was commonly woven into elaborate, intricate jewellery design between people as a sign of love, friendship or affection. As well as the living sharing hair jewellery, hair was commonly used in Victorian mourning jewellery, including two deceased lovers locks being intertwined with one another to make mourning pieces. Now that’s what I call romantic. Flowers, wreaths, brooches and rings could all be created using truly spectacular craftsmanship from hair.


EYE,EYE..rather than just cheekily winking at a potential new playmate how about wooing them with a miniature portrait of your eye? Certainly beats any modern selfie texted to someone, I’d say. These small and unique handpainted eye portraits, known now as examples “Lover’s Eye”, could be exchanged between lovers whose affairs needed to remain of a covert nature, with the identity of the secret admirer remaining hard to trace. We still don’t know the identity of many of these romantic relics.

Personally, I have been rather enamoured with the simple yet striking design of the classic Danish Heart since I was taught to make them.  Traditionally made for Christmas, I think that these can work all year round, especially at Valentine’s.

If you look carefully around London, you may spot some of these Danish Hearts stuck around town (it’s a mystery who puts them there). Last Valentine’s Day, I made 100 of these paper love hearts to leave a trail on the streets for my Valentine to find. I hope that Victoria and Albert would approve…

You can learn to make your own at our ROMANCE IS DEAD event on Tuesday at Hackney Picturehouse, ready to give to someone you love come Friday. Tickets are available for £10 each here.

As well as Victorian paper hand love-token making and Danish hearts craft demonstration, they’ll be the usual Art Macabre Death Drawing to take part in. With models Odelia Opium sharing her Chinese Ghost Wedding act and Ava Iscariot performing a special bespoke version of her dark evil cupid act for us. We can’t wait for this deathly date!

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Announcing bi-monthly Saturday salons! Global Curiosities launches 1 March


We’re really excited to be able to reveal a new series of salons to be held on SATURDAYS! Yes, that’s right…your favourite death drawing salons can now be enjoyed at the weekend too. Every 1st and 3rd Saturday afternoon, we’ll be at The Book Club in Shoreditch, starting on 1 March. We’ll take you on a tour around the world’s most macabre mythology and curious cultural customs as we explore death around the globe.

Launching on Saturday 1st March, tickets are now on sale.

We hope you’ll join us for these relaxed salons in the basement of The Book Club, where you’ll be able to enjoy all materials being laid on for you and a bar serving a yummy menu of food and drink at your fingertips too. There’ll be everything you’ve come to expect from Art Macabre Death Drawing salons, plus some additional narrative and focus on a different culture each session that will feed into the props, music and drawing challenges each event.

Art Macabre’s Nikki Shaill is enjoying researching into global death cultures and can’t wait to share what she’s unearthed with you at each event!

Curious to find out more? The upcoming event themes and the first places we’ll be focussing our attention are detailed here

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It’s nearly London Fashion Week time…Morte Couture is back!

punk is deadWe’re getting ready for London Fashion Week to hit our stylish city in a matter of days and our second MORTE COUTURE special will take a PUNK IS DEAD theme this time around. Get ready for Cass Art art supplies being transformed into Morte Couture creations, for our professional models Alex B and Collette von Tora to pose in for your drawing delight.

You can look forward to the opportunity to draw bodies wrapped in DIY couture, posing nude but for striking accessories fashioned from gaffa tape, paper, card and paint…and lots of safety pins, naturally.

Art Macabre’s Nikki Shaill visited the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition ‘PUNK: From Chaos to Couture’ last Spring, and took inspiration for this salon during this visit. Featuring Vivienne Westwood to Alexander McQueen, the exhibition was truly inspiring in the way it was curated and demonstrating the use of everyday creative materials such as black bin liners, in the sketch below of a Gareth Pugh design.

Sketch by Nikki Shaill of 'Punk: From Chaos to Couture'

Sketch by Nikki Shaill of ‘Punk: From Chaos to Couture’

Come and practice your fashion illustration and ‘death drawing’ life drawing skills at our PUNK special, and stick two fingers up to anyone who says that you can’t draw..

Tickets are available via Cass Art here. You may not get a ticket to London Fashion Week, but you can join us front row for our alternative catwalk sketching show…

Photo: all rights reserved. The Fisherman’s Wife by Terry Slater. Feat Alex B.

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Imagine FX feature

We’re delighted to be featured in February’s Ladykillers/Pin-up Art special of Imagine FX magazine. I have to admit it’s not a publication I’d previously been aware of, but having received my shiny covered, matte paged issue in the post today, I’m quite the fan. If you like digital art, tattoo art, pin ups, fantasy, graphic design or illustration (I’m guessing Art Macabre followers may well tick one or more boxes?!) then it’s worth checking it out as a publication for inspiration as well as step by step tutorials and technical advice. I’ll post a full PDF soon of our feature so that you can read it, but here’s a preview! Featuring images of our previous events at Cass Art and Barts Pathology Museum. Featured models are Steve RitterLorraine of Terror and Alex B. With drawings by Aaron Jacob Jones and Jon Attfield. If you’re inspired to join us to give Death Drawing a go for yourself this year, we’ve got events coming up in the next few weeks

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Happy New Fear! Raven Rouge’s Top 10 Art Macabre moments 2013…

So, my gorgeous Art Macabre friends, as we look back to 2013 and forward to a shiny new year ahead, let us indulge in a good old Top 10 type look at the year we’ve had here at Art Macabre. What were your favourite moments? Do tweet them to us @ArtMacabreLDN or share through our Facebook page or comments here.

Here are Raven Rouge’s favourite bits, chosen from an unprecedented busy year of macabre happenings and salons. Over the past year, we’ve held over 50 events would you believe. Thousands of people have participated in Art Macabre Death Drawing in 2013 and that’s a whole lot of sketches produced, pencil lead used, minutes models held poses and hoots of the Art Macabre owl…

We can’t wait to get going again post-Christmas break, and we’ve already got 3 very exciting January events lined up for you…take a peek here and make sure you kick 2014 off with some death drawing?


10)   BARTS PATHOLOGY MUSEUM – our first event at Barts Pathology Museum earlier this year was quite an ambition fulfilled for me. Ever since I discovered this well-kept secret of London, having heard rumours and waited for an opportunity to view it at an event, I knew that an Art Macabre marriage with such a magically macabre yet beautiful place would be something quite special. With two of the most professional, skilled models we’ve hosted bringing some very dynamic poses and several skeletons posing alongside them, we didn’t need to bring much more to this unique setting to inspire some stunning sketches. I love this shot of Alex B, our living Anatomical Venus, posing alongside these 2 skulls, to the soundtrack of her favourite band, Smashing Pumpkins.


Top L to R: 10) Alex B and friends at Barts Pathology Museum 9) Steve Ritter as the Mechanic attempts to exterminate Raven Rouge 8) We celebrate the luminescent Lux 7) Circus of Skeletons’ inimitable couple in the woods 6) If you go down to the Vaults today…gothic heaven

9) THE MECHANIC ATTACKED and I almost got unexpectedly exterminated by a menacing android at Digital Dystopia, our futuristic Big Draw special in October at Cass Art Islington. It was such a fun event that I allowed my imagination to run wild for; playing my own great grand-daughter, attaching tin foil and electric whisks galore to unsuspecting but ever collaborative models. However the narrative took an unexpected twist at the end, leading to me to be genuinely scared by my own creation as ‘The Mechanic’, our evil cyber-villain mistook my direction of ‘ATTACK! DESTROY!’ and headed towards me, complete with flashing red bike light eye and Machiavellian metallic moustache. Our model Steve Ritter (who by the way is another top discovery for 2o13- firmly becoming our favoured male model and friend to elaborate body painting) did a fantastic job of getting into this menacing role. I was petrified!

8) LUX – It was an honour to remember and celebrate our much missed, never forgotten and multi-talented friend and Art Macabre co-founder Lucinda Lux Chell in December. As the 2 year anniversary of Lux’s death approached, it seemed the right time to mark the occasion and take up the invitation from Crick Crack Club to be part of their Festival of Fairytales for Grown Ups again at the Bargehouse. Holding an exhibition of some of her anatomical artwork, including embroidery, prints and drawings, where I saw our luminescent fire bird Lux for the last time, was very emotional and difficult. But worth it. Oh so worth it.

The work shone brightly and inspired those who had never been lucky enough to meet our friend, whilst those of us who knew and loved her (of which there were many) were happy to agree that it was a space and festival that Lux would have loved. We only wished that she could have been there with us to see how much everyone admired her creations. We raised £400 in total for Young Minds- a charity that supports children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Screen prints are still available to purchase. The support of everyone was quite overwhelming.

7) WILD IN THE WOODS- A secret salon as we go into the woods…This Summer brought many special moments as we went on tour to festivals, however my favourite memory has to be our secret outdoor salon at Standon Calling. Salon London allowed us to venture outdoors, and they were right in imagining that the woodland clearing would be a magical setting for Art Macabre’s Circus of Skeletons. Wind rustled through the trees, it was peaceful and silent apart from our glockenspiel and the sound of pencils on paper, and our models looked like nymphs and unicorns within the forest. Creating the characters of our band of circus freaks was a lot of fun and by the end of the festival, we felt like a proper circus troupe and I only wished that we could continue on tour in the van for the whole summer…seeing Vivian our stylish Strongman and Fevvers our glamourous Cockney trapeze artist marry for real a few months later only made it all the more special!

6) GOTHIC ROMANCE & neo-Victorian visions in the Vaults…The Gothic Ball as part of the Victoriana exhibition at Guildhall Art Gallery was a perfect partnership for us. Seeing hundreds of people so excited to draw, on both the floor and their own sketchpads, whilst sipping gin cocktails and dressed up to the nines in the most fantastical period costume was really quite a sight! I didn’t imagine we’d have the opportunity to have models pose nude and costumed in the vaults of such a historic building, let alone wearing a gas mark, latex corset and bat nipple tassles! Ava and Cynth Icorn captivated the audiences and looked a Gothic fantastical dream/nightmare, along with a surprise model The Mighty Moustache who we hope to coax back to model for us in 2014…watch this space.


Top L to R: 5) Living Doll- Mannequins at Lost Lectures 4) Superman dream becomes reality 3) Death by chocolate bunnies

5) SHE’S ALIVE! MOVING MANNEQUINS. This one is very simple. I loved witnessing the moment that unsuspecting onlookers jumped out of their skins as they noticed Ava Iscariot, our ‘mannequin’, first move and realised that she wasn’t one of the models in our abandoned shop front scene. Ava made for a very convincing mannequin at our installation for The Lost Lectures at Old Selfridges Hotel. All those many salons she’s modelled at for us (11 in total) have obviously paid off. She’s ever so good at staying still and getting in to character, this one…

4) DEATH OF A SUPERHERO, BRINGING TO LIFE A 4 YEAR OLD BOY’S DREAM…It was lovely to read Jon Attfield’s heartfelt note about how our Death of a Superhero special, that he had a lot of input into creating and leading, had brought to reality a dream that he’d had when he was a little boy with a big love of comics and superheroes. Our very own Clark Kent, aka model Lou, bravely donned Lycra and helped bring to life the painting of Jon. Seeing imagination come to life and remembering how we can all keep playing dress up, wearing costumes, sketching fantasy scenes and playing make believe is what Art Macabre is all about. Look out for more super hero themed salons in 2014…

3) MY HOUSEMATE GETS COVERED IN CHOCOLATE SAUCE. BY TWO BUNNY GIRLS. It’s not every day you get to enjoy seeing two latex clad, stockinged ladies pouring chocolate sauce from a ladder onto your house mate’s bare chest. Whilst he’s tied up to a chair. Wearing a plastic sheep mask. And a dressing gown. And a furry nappy. Well, I don’t anyway. For me, it was a funny novelty- an Easter treat. For some of you reading this, I know it’s probably quite a regular, tame occurrence. You naughty perverts,you…

2) SEEING PEOPLE MODELLING FOR THE FIRST TIME, including my partner in crime Linz. I remember when Linz first appeared on stage (fully costumed as Luna Moonrise) at our Dead Space event in January this year. I left her to fill time for 5 mins whilst I changed the music and she got stage fright and disappeared behind the screen. “Don’t ever do that to me again!” she hissed, slightly pissed off, as I returned to find an empty stage. She preferred to stay behind the scenes, making puppets and props, thank you very much. 8 months later, and she posed costumed again, this time as a fierce leopard and a clown on several occasions. Her stage presence was growing. Now, 12 months later, and Linz has posed nude three times for Art Macabre. And she loves it. She’s got a taste for it. Yes, the first time she did it at Salon No 6 she was petrified. But she did it, to her credit. And then each time after that she enjoyed even more as it felt more natural.


2) Linz posing for the first time clothed in Jan 2013 and nude at Salon No 6 in Sept 2013

It’s a special moment when people pose for the first time. When they undress and dare to bare all for others to draw, and you see them go from nervous and unsure to relaxing in to the pose, then taking on the character and growing in confidence, to the point that they forget they’re nude at the end whilst chatting to people at the end and asking when they can do it again. People seem to get hooked on the adrenalin rush, meditative feeling and accomplishment of posing at the salons, plus they love seeing the diverse range of ways in which they’re captured and interpreted by the artists on the page.  I really respect each and every person who has posed for the first time with us this year and love hearing how they’ve enjoyed it/ticked it off their bucket lists. To name but a few: Linz, Sam, James, Clare, Carrie, Lily, Ruth, Lou and Lorraine. Perhaps 2014 will be the year I get the courage to join them?

and my number 1 moment of 2o13…

1) GETTING GORY AT DRAW BLOOD. My number one moment of the year was when I was posing as a blood-thirsty nurse, Matron Raven Rouge.


1) Getting gory as Matron Raven Rouge at Draw Blood, including patient Lorraine of Terror bandaged up and the sheep’s head

It was our Halloween/Anniversary special and not only was my best friend Lorraine of Terror posing as a patient so I could torture her, but I got to do one of my favourite things and play with lots of fake blood and real gore and guts. A trip to the Hackney butchers meant I had lovely fresh, skinned sheep’s head, complete with eyeball intact. For our penultimate scene, I relished taking my time slicing up lamb’s hearts and holding them up to my face pretending to eat them, then holding up the sheep’s head high. As sheep’s head blood trickled down my arm as I held the pose, running down towards my armpit, I could hear the audience gasp and groan in disgust. Mission accomplished.

Here’s to more macabre moments and gore galore in 2014!

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