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Eastbourne Naturist Swim Club and ‘The Renaissance Nude’
I happened to see an article online about Paris naturists arranging a visit to a modern art gallery – the Palais de Tokyo. It made the news not the least because 30,000 people wanted to get tickets to be naked in the art gallery. Although this was a private event and only 161 people were able to attend it was notable for being so newsworthy.

A friend of mine suggested we try the Royal Academy and specifically the exhibition ‘The Renaissance Nude’. I wasn’t sure this would have great appeal and I thought that pictures that were 500 years old might be difficult to relate to. After all many naturists believe that staring at others (dressed or not) is rude and we engage in eye to eye contact much more that non-naturists and that gives new naturists a comforting experience as they are given the confidence that people are interested in their personalities rather than their looks.

So actually we are viewing the pictures, much as a non-naturist might, to find out what people really look like, except that we know when we see an idealised representation that is unrealistic. This period from around 1400 turns out to be very interesting and the reasons for painting nudes then was often quite different from the current, often commercial, standpoint.

A group of naturists admire a nude cast of Hercules during a private event at Royal Academy of Arts in May in London
A group of naturists admire a nude cast of Hercules during a private event at Royal Academy of Arts in May in London Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Royal Academy of Arts

I wrote to them and a group visit was quite easily arranged, although we would be segregated as usual from the public having to attend after normal opening hours. The Royal Academy provided online ticket arrangements and organised a low key media release.

62 naturists visited and we were provided with a room to undress, the cloakroom stayed open, a photographer from Getty Images made some pictures and we all proceeded naked up the grand staircase and then up some glass stairs to the top gallery. Here we had the exhibition to ourselves for two hours. We were able to purchase audio guides and the main shop stayed open. There are also quite a few free galleries available to see and although there were several members of staff in the building who were not officiating with us, there were no signs of awkwardness. The staff who looked after us were very welcoming and at ease. Any trepidation that there might have been from the RA’s very first naturist visit soon evaporated and by the end we were discussing a repeat visit and we are keen to do so.

Source: Philip Baker, Treasurer Eastbourne Naturist Swim Club

Posted on NatCorn 14th May 2019