PICTURE GALLERY: Exhibition in celebration of Norfolk mum’s revealing career

She has been sketched, sculpted, painted, pictured and moulded by scores of watchful artistic eyes - all without her clothes on.

Stripping off in the name of art may fill some with dread but does not faze mum-of-two Dorcas Henderson who has worked as a life model for 15 years.

And her unclad career, which includes posing for students at Gresham's in Holt, is now on show as an exhibition depicting her figure in several mediums has gone on display at the school in Cromer Road.

The display has been organised by members of an adult art group, which meets in nearby Lower Gresham, who have been studying Mrs Henderson for years. And the show has already sparked creative waves amongst her younger fans.

The 54-year-old said: 'Students have said 'this is fab, we'll try and do that and this', which is really good. I have been with the group seven years and I think they're very talented people and it's just something people ought to see to inspire others.'


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Polly Leithead, a founding member of the group, said Mrs Henderson was a 'fantastic' model and added: 'She is something special. We meet every week, we don't even stop for holidays, and it's only ever Dorcas.'

But it was an unexpected situation which led to Mrs Henderson, from Wood Norton near Fakenham, slipping out of her clothes and into the studio limelight.

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One of her nieces, who was working as a model, was badly burned in an accident and was unable to pose for a class in Norwich. She suggested the teacher ask her auntie to step in, which Mrs Henderson boldly did.

'You're very conscious obviously because you have got lots of eyes on you, but after a while you just think it's art and this is lovely because I'm giving something to people that they can work with and bring out their talent,' Mrs Henderson said.

'You can have the same pose but so many interpretations of it. When people can capture you and it's exactly you, that really is amazing.'

Mrs Henderson, who also works as a housekeeper for an elderly farmer in Briston, said she had not suffered many embarrassments during sittings, but admitted she did once become a little too comfortable.

'I have actually fallen fast asleep,' she added. 'They had to wake me up because I was snoring so that was a trifle embarrassing but it was great for them because they just carried on working.'

The job also comes with some difficulties such as cramp, numbness and tackling tricky poses - including one in which Mrs Henderson had to lay in a mirror lined coffin, which she was 'terrified' would break.

But she has no intention of robing up for good and said she would like to continue for as long as possible.

She said: 'My mum's 96 and I'm the thirteenth child and she always said I was the most difficult one and most courageous one, and I think that shows when I can just get my kit off and not worry about what other people say.

'You shouldn't worry, as long as you're not hurting anyone do what you want to do.'

The exhibition runs until next Thursday December 8 at Gresham's Nicholson Gallery in Cromer Road. It is open Monday - Saturday from 10am until 5pm.

? To see more pictures of Mrs Henderson and some of the pieces from the exhibition click on the photo gallery tab on the top right of this page

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