East London Strippers Collective Make Their Art Fair Debut at Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair


East London Strippers Collective will make their art fair debut at the March edition of The Other Art Fair at Truman Brewery, London. One of several female-focused features at the artist-led Fair in honour of International Women’s Day, the collective will present a curated hang and life drawing workshop series.

Visitors are invited to partake in a thrilling rendition of a classic life drawing workshop complete with high-octane aerial poses and pole tricks, as stripping and erotic performance collide with the art world in a forty-five-minute slot costing just £15 per person. Life drawing and erotica are the basis for many budding art practices, sparking joy & exploring the eternal fascination with carnal, embodied subject matter. Many of history’s most influential artists owe their careers to life models – many of whom were women; lovers & sex workers. This is the first time the East London Strippers Collective have ever featured at an art fair, though they have frequently used their flagship life drawing classes to educate people about sex workers rights.

“We have chosen to partner with The Other Art Fair because of their artist-led approach. There are many parallels between the art world and stripping, and the way galleries and strip clubs work. You get paid in tips and you are charged a house fee & up to 50% commission to work in a strip club. There is a transparency to the working set up with an artist-led Fair like TOAF. A lot of our strippers are artists funding their careers via sex work, so the whole collaboration feels like a good fit.” – Samantha Sun – East London Strippers Collective

Founded in 2014, the ELSC are supporting and promoting self-organisation among strippers and lap dancers, challenging the stigma around sex work, standing up to exploitation and fighting for improved safety and harm reduction in the wider sex industry.

ELSC are dedicated to building worker led strategies, creating opportunities and growth for performers outside of the exploitative business model of a regular strip club. Since forming, the collective has grown a viable and sustainable business that is run entirely by dancers and ex-dancers themselves. From pop-up strip club parties to public talks, art exhibitions and life drawing classes, ELSC remain an autonomous organisation in charge of creating their own working conditions and supporting members of their community.

East London Strippers Collective at The Royal Academy

Alongside the program of workshops, ELSC will showcase their very own curated hang at The Other Art Fair, comprising works created by members of the collective responding to theme of sex work. Many of the contributing artists currently or formerly came to stripping, porn & sex work as a means to help fund their artistic practice. The exhibited work subverts the idea of the muse, giving a voice to the models instead of them being passively portrayed by artists.

Highlights from the curated hang include a mix of mediums and approaches. One artist is presenting paintings that dip between hyper realism, pin-up girl horror and sharp hyper-focused grotesque, playing with the notions of sex work and beauty whilst criticising the stigma and dehumanising that strippers regularly face.

Alongside these paintings are photographs taken as a love letter to sex workers, featuring models from the community in various, often unlikely environments, such as churches. Further imagery documents the candid moments outside of the performance space, emphasising the camaraderie within the community.

A trans artist from the collective is presenting ‘Unsolicited Brick Pic’ series, which sees unsolicited dick pics, non-consensually printed on house bricks as a statement on consent. Further artists in the curated hang are prolific for erotica and feminist themes which have often faced censorship, with a collective solidarity against this censorship within ELSC.

ELSC have formerly hosted their life drawing sessions at the Royal Academy in 2018 (in a space where no women were allowed up until the 1940s), the British Museum in 2022 and ICA 2022. The Other Art Fair is their art fair debut, an apt one as its ethos aims to challenges gender inequality in the art market. The March edition boasts an impressive 69% female-identifying artist line-up which is not typically seen at many art fairs.

The Other Art Fair Founder Ryan Stanier comments, “I started The Other Art Fair to be the antithesis of the art world as we know it, here we give creatives the chance to showcase work that challenges stereotypes and preconceived notions. The East London Strippers Collective is taking the age-old tradition of drawing artistic nudes and turning it on its head with their Life Drawing residency at the Fair.”