Spencer Tunick in Valencia – April 2019

I have taken part in Spencer Tunick’s art installations before & I love both the experience & the resulting art, so when I heard he was coming to Valencia I didn’t hesitate to book some cheap Ryanair flights direct from my home in Ireland.

Through previous installations and the Spencer Valencia dedicated Facebook page I met with some friends old & new including two other friends from Ireland for a meal the night before. There was a real international flavor to our group with people from Russia, Norway, the Netherlands, the UK, Brazil & Ireland all having a good time with no politics at all. There was much speculation about what Spencer had planned and several of us had spotted a few cherry pickers (raised platforms) around the city but as usual none of us really knew what Spencer had planned.

The morning of the installation we met in Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporània Carrer Museu, a museum in the centre of Valencia at 5 am. We gathered outside and the air of anticipation was palpable and even for people like me who’d taken part before it was hard to resist being swept up in the buzz. There was much nervous chatter and introductions, I got chatting to a Spanish girl who was alone so I introduced her to my friends so she felt part of a group.

Finally the door opened to the museum & we were filtered through a small entrance  way where we had to hand in our model release forms before proceeding into a large courtyard with a walkway around it; here the men & women were separated with the men being brought into a second separate courtyard with a similar walkway around, there was more waiting and nervous chatter.

After a relatively short wait Spencer came in and with the help of a male & female model Spencer demonstrated the poses he wanted us to do during the various installations he had in mind.

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Then we heard a series of exited screams for the other courtyard that told us another group were told to undress and they were lead out to the area for the 1st set up; soon after the remaining people were also told to undress which they did.

 

We were lead out into the streets. At one point they stopped the front of the group so the back of the group could catch up we were outside an apartment block, naturally there was much exited chatter while we were waiting this attracted the attention of a young woman on a balcony above who couldn’t believe that the street was covered with naked bodies; she quickly got her phone and was taking pics of us.

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We were led through the arch of the Serrano Towers, a large castle type structure that was once one of the entrances to the old walled city of Valencia.

The theme of the installations were not just the empowerment of women but actually them raising above the men.

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Later that evening there was a participants after party in Sabotage art gallery in Valencia with free drinks for everyone Spencer & Steve (Spencer’s assistant) were there posing for photos & chatting to everyone it was really relaxed after a while we moved on to a bar nearby where we talked & drank until the early hours.

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This was yet another fantastic experience to add to my others installations all were unique in their own way but all brilliant. There’s something about being naked among a bunch of strangers that breaks down barriers and makes you realise you may not have a perfect figure but we’re all normal.

On my 1st installation in Dublin after we’d disrobed I heard a comment from a lady that for me summed up Dublin and every Spencer experience since she said
“I’ve got no clothes on but I don’t feel naked”.

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10 arguments in support of naturism

There is a well-known article called “205 Arguments and Observations in Support of Naturism”, compiled in 1996 by K.Bacher.

We have summarised here what we consider the 10 most compelling ideas:

1) The sense of freedom that naturism offers is consistently rated by naturists as one of the main reasons they live that way.

2) Naturism is highly compatible with the ideals of a natural, simple, and environmentally friendly lifestyle. When nude, people feel much more a part of a natural environment.

3) Naturism promotes wholeness of body, rather than setting aside parts of the body as unwholesome and shameful.

4) Clothing hides the natural diversity of human body shapes and sizes and hides and therefore creates ignorance about natural bodies.

5) Naturism where everyone is accepted is the opposite of the body fascism where only “the beautiful people” can be seen nude.

6) Naturism is tolerant of others and their differences. Nudity promotes social and sexual equality, feelings of unity with others and a more relaxed social interaction in general. Naturists tend to be especially sociable and accepting of other people, just as they are, not measured against some artificial social standard.

7) Countries with fewer hang-ups about nudity have lower teen pregnancy and abortion rates.

8) Children are not born with any shame about nudity. They are conditioned to be ashamed of their own nudity. The dominant idea that clothing is necessary for reasons of modesty is a cultural assumption, not biologically instinctive. Children who grow up in a naturist setting tend to be more self-confident, more self-accepting, and more sexually well-adjusted.

9) Nudity is not, by itself, erotic, and nudity in mixed groups is not inherently sexual. Sexuality is a matter of intent rather than state of dress. Complete nudity is antithetic to pornography and the elaborate semi-pornography of the fashion industry.

10) There are times when clothing is uncomfortable and unnecessary (swimming, sauna, hot weather).

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What are the benefits of naturism for you? Real quotes from Irish Naturists

We have asked our members of Irish Naturist Association what it means for them to be naturists and what are the benefits they can observe.

Here real answers in their own words:

Naturism is the best way to totally disconnect from the stresses of this world and thus the best form of relaxation that I know of.

It’s a way to practice my beliefs of equality and non-discrimination with myself and others. Learning to let go of physical shame. Exploring the freedoms and ease when the body is unencumbered by clothes, pretence. Healing past body image issues. Learning to relate to others, feeling safe and accepted for my true self.

Swimwear is the most useless piece of clothing. It doesn‘t keep you warm, it doesn‘t keep you dry, all it does is cause you discomfort. When you get out of the water, the rest of your body dries quickly and you are left with cold, clammy swimwear sticking to you in all the wrong places.

The complete liberation it gives us in terms of a real sense of freedom from normal day living and its pressures, it is so grounding. Also complete and utter joyful and powerful feeling one gets of being as close to mother nature and her natural states, it really is so beautifully natural.

The first naturist event was the first time I felt comfortable and accepting of myself since becoming a full-time wheelchair user, I feel more at ease with other people without hiding myself behind clothes.

Everyone is equal when naked. No brands to show financial status. Equal and in nature.

For those of us with a skin condition  we know that the naturist community you share time with enjoy the company and they have no interest in the condition, so there is no embarrassment, nothing but total and complete respect for each other!

I’ve always been the chubby kid and had low self-esteem. From 10 to 30!! But it all changed for me when I started to go naturist. I’ve realised I’m perfect the way I am and I can’t believe the amount of confidence I’ve gained in such a short space of time.

There is an irony about being naked in that it actually makes you less rather than more self-conscious about your body. In a textile environment, whether on the beach or indeed anywhere, I am constantly aware of my physical appearance, wondering whether the clothes suit me, or some body parts look too big or too small. Conversely, being naked amongst genuine naturists is actually the only environment where I can truly relax, as I know that nobody is judging my body and I feel free, empowered and 100% at ease with myself, which makes me proud of my new nonchalance about my body.

 

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My amazing bodypainting experience

My bodypaint experience
I had heard of the World Naked Bike Ride Cork and signed up for it in 2016 but cancelled at the last minute just because I chickened out.
In 2017 everything seemed a lot easier; my friends and I we’re visiting another friend who lives in Cork on the same weekend as the WNBR.
I told my friends I was going to take part and they all seemed happy for me but unwilling to take part themselves.
The WNBR starts at 3pm, I showed up about 2.30 expecting someone to just throw a bit of paint on me and write a little slogan on my back. How little I knew!
There must have been about 100 artists and models covered head to toe in the brightest most vivid colours with an incredible level of detail on each model and all completely different as they had been painting since 10am. I just walked into an Aladdin’s cave of wonder.
I introduced myself to the organiser, clearly very busy!
He just looked at me and said: “Well, you better get naked quick, we’re leaving in a minute”, I was nervous now!
I stripped down to my underwear and thought this is good enough for me for now.
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At 3pm the convoy got underway, we stepped into the sunshine and wow the colours of the bodypaint became even brighter. With bells ringing, riders shouting and laughing we got moving.
I didn’t know Cork city at the time so I was just following the crowd, we cycled for 2 hours stopping in UCC for a few photographs.
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There was a wedding on at the time and the smiling bride and groom joined us for a few snaps. We cycled slowly through the city stopping at all the traffic lights as cars blew their horns in support.
At one set of lights a bus pulled up beside us and a young girl eye’s just lite up as she recognised what we were doing.
Everyone we passed on the route stopped, smiled, clapped and cheered us along. I felt amazing, being part of something so positive and joyful.

BadeLand Wolfsburg – My first experience of a German Sauna

 

BadeLand Wolfsburg – My first experience of a German Sauna

 

Until you’ve sweated it out in a full-on German sauna, you can’t really claim to be a proper sauna aficionado. Happily it’s an experience I can now tick off my bucket list, courtesy of a free morning while on a work trip to Wolfsburg in Lower Saxony.

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Wolfsburg is of course the home of Volkswagen, and the famous VW logo is everywhere in this city. A little research identified BadeLand (www.badeland-wolfsburg.de), a waterpark with separate adjoining sauna area as a suitable facility. Located on the River Aller, it’s within walking distance (25-30 minutes) of the iconic Volkswagen factory with its four chimney stacks dating back to 1938, as well as Volkswagen’s Autostadt museum and customer centre which is well worth a visit. The Courtyard by Marriott hotel is located next door to BadeLand for anyone looking for a convenient place to stay.

The fact that BadeLand’s website is in German only caused a few reservations about whether I would have problems finding my way around, but the helpful lady at the desk explained in perfect English that a half day entry fee of €16.20 would allow unlimited access to both the pool area and the sauna area. If you need towels, they are €2 each, and flip-flops are also recommended – I brought my own. You do need to have swimwear to use the pool side, whereas the sauna area is textile free.

At check-in you are given a wristwatch type sensor that allows access to the various areas, as well as locking your chosen locker and recording any drinks or other items you purchase in the bar area.

Changing facilities for the sauna area are unisex, though there is also a dedicated female changing area. So it was off with the clothes, and with a towel wrapped around me, into the fray.

2048px-Badeland_von_obenThe sauna area is built on two levels, with a number of saunas and areas for chilling as well as the showering and changing facilities on the upper level. Downstairs there are additional saunas as well as steam rooms, a generously sized jacuzzi, plunge pools, a cold shower area and two mini pools that go from indoors to outside, one decidedly cold, the other more jacuzzi temperature. There also a bar area downstairs where you can order food and drink.

Outside there are at least three other buildings housing other saunas as well as sun-loungers for relaxing when the weather is warmer.

My lack of German meant that deciphering what unique benefits each sauna or steam room offered was a case of jumping in at the deep end and finding out. Basically there is something for everyone, from a comfortable solarium which is little warmer than a hot day, to full on sweat houses, each with its own special infusion. Many are generously proportioned, capable of taking 30 or 40 people. It’s certainly a far cry from the single cramped sauna you get in most Irish facilities.

Despite it being a work day, the sauna was well populated with people of all ages, and an even split of the sexes. As a naturist, the dress etiquette is slightly interesting. Most Germans who use saunas are not naturists per se, so typically they put on towels or robes as soon as they come out of whatever facility they have been using. But equally a towel wrapped around a shoulder seemed to be perfectly acceptable, and there were plenty who were comfortable walking from place to place just holding their towels. Nobody batted an eyelid either way. Adding to the slight oddity of the whole thing is that while the changing areas are unisex, the shower facilities are segregated.

BadeLand_Sauna-aussenAn essential part of any German sauna visit is to experience an Aufgussmeister or Sauna Meister doing their thing. At designated times, a man or woman will perform an intricate exercise of towel waving designed to extract maximum sweating using special blends of essential oils that they add to the hot coals. It’s clearly a highly considered art form, with the very sweaty naked audience applauding the Sauna Meister at the conclusion of their routine. Performance times are displayed in advance, but be aware you need to get into the sauna in good time to be sure of a seat as they are very popular – which leads to the problem of overheating even before the towel waving performance starts.

Overall this is an incredibly relaxing way to spend a morning or afternoon – or even an entire day. You leave feeling tired yet revitalised at the same time. Wolfsburg isn’t the most obvious of destinations for Irish visitors – the nearest airport is Hannover about an hour away which doesn’t have direct flights (at this time of the year at least) from Ireland. But as an example of what a German sauna offers, BadeLand has certainly left me enthusiastic to come back for more. What a shame we don’t have similar facilities in Ireland.

2018 – What a year! naked dining .. nude gallery exhibitions and much much more!!

Looking back, 2018 must be the most event filled year to date for the INA. It was a year with so many first-time activities!! We also increased the frequency of swims in both in Cahir and Ballinasloe and gained affiliation to the Clean Coasts Group.

Our first overseas outing was in February to the largest sauna complex on the planet, Therme Erding on the outskirts of Munich. 15 INA members made the day trip. A day where we were spoilt for choice due to the variety of saunas and steam rooms on offer.

The 13th February brought us to Dog’s Bay in beautiful remote Connemara. Four naturists braved the elements to conduct a thorough clean-up.

5th May was World Naked Gardening Day, it was a glorious early summers day. 40 members availed of the opportunity to tour the magnificent Corke Lodge gardens in Shankill, Co. Dublin. It was a truly memorable occasion.

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Credit Photo : Paul Kolbe

On the 29th May 2018 in collaboration with Art Nude Ireland the Irish Naturist Association had organised a private viewing for the evening of the 29th May at The Inspire Gallery. The appeal of the event took the organisers by surprise: Over 100 people registered to attend a private nude viewing of the Art Nude Ireland exhibition The Body”.

A first-time event – the exhibition was so well received and so thoroughly enjoyed. The managers of In-spire Gallery, where the exhibition took place, were delighted for the opportunity of this unique naked collaboration.

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Credit Photo : Paul Kolbe

Following on from this viewing, one of the participating photographers, Doug Ross gave a presentation about Art Nude Ireland at our AGM.

The AGM was again held in the Lough Allen Hotel. A most enjoyable experience with so many members relaxing and socialising together. Leticia scheduled in a nude Spanish class which focused on vocabulary that would be useful on naturist holidays.

On the summer solstice we celebrated Spencer Tunick’s 10th anniversary with a small re-enactment early in the morning on the South Wall. And in July we had our first island excursion. Our destination was historic Dalkey Island, we departed in two groups from Bullock Harbour on a very favourable day weather-wise.

Dalkey

Both Ballyfermot and Monaghan Leisure Centres grew in popularity as the year advanced with the facilities at both locations proving to be very appealing to members.

2018 was the year we had our first nude dining event. The first 18 to register were treated with a combination of Spanish/Venezuelan cuisine in the House of Salads. It was such an enjoyable experience that we returned again 2 months later.

September led to our first official INA ‘adventure’ in Cork city. This was the first time we would have three events in the one day – all in Co. Cork. The day started with two sessions of naked laughing yoga. A first for many of us but it certainly set the tone for what was to be a very satisfying day. Also, as part of the occasion we organised a collection for the ‘Bare to Care’ charity.

Straight afterwards it was on to the Crawford Gallery for the Naked Truth exhibition.Nearly 70 participants partook who had pre-registered through Eventbrite. Due to the large number we broke into two groups for the private tour. As the museum was closed to the public we could wander freely throughout the premises.

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Credit Photo : Paul Kolbe

That evening we descended on Fermoy Leisure Centre. It was a first time visit and we were immediately taken with its very modern facilities. It was a great way to unwind after such a busy day and we immediately set about making plans for it to be a regular venue.

In October, our Event Coordinator attended INF world congress in Lisbon. Leticia could proudly publicise our growing membership base and diverse event calendar.

Towards the end of the year we marketed Black Friday Promotion and Cyber Monday Special aimed at attracting new younger members.

Throughout the year there wasn’t a month that went by without a beach clean-up or naturist hike. In fact, our last event was a very successful winter solstice beach clean-up in Sallymount on the 20th December.

How often do you get the chance to be naked in an Art Gallery ?? by Katie Rowland

Seeing the Naked Truth nude tour advertised I thought ‘how often do you get the chance to be naked in an art gallery”. Arriving at the Crawford 20 minutes early I meet Leticia. I knew she was with the nude group as I saw her Irish Naturist Association hat on. I introduced myself and she made me feel welcome. Seeing my name on her list made me realise I was really doing this. Thinking I needed a rum and coke I went into Cashmans pub next to the Crawford Art Gallery. I got back to the gallery when all the textiles were leaving. (I got the lingo now). I must have walked with confidence as the door man gave me a nod and said ‘you must be with the group’. I felt proud nodding back saying that I was.

I have never got naked in public before never mind in an art gallery with a hundred other strangers. Everyone was chit chatting. We were brought up stairs to wait where I walked from painting to painting trying to figure out was there anyone else on their own. We were brought into a beautiful room which I think was the library. I sat on a seat. This man sat next to me and we started chatting , he was on his own too. Then another women sat next to him. I asked her was she on her own. She was, so the three of us kept each other company. I told them it was my first time doing something like this. A man spoke about a charity close to his heart which I think was a cancer charity called ‘bare to care’. When he finished talking I glanced around and saw some people were naked already. I took my shoes and socks off while still chatting to the man and women. The three of us agreed it was time to undress too. Trousers next, then knickers, then the long top and the last was the bra undone. I stood there naked and said, “well that’s it, it’s my first time”. Another man walked past and shook my hand for my bravery and said “well done”.

Leticia came into the room saying that the gallery staff hadn’t given the thumbs up yet to undress yet but that she will check. I thought to myself I was not getting dressed and then undressing again. Within a few seconds she came back to say it was ok. We were brought to the start of the Naked Truth exhibition. Here we got a group photo taken from behind.

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We were split into two groups as there were so many of us. The tour was given by a textile tour guide. He was working so couldn’t be naked. The tour was very interesting and I loved it. Every now and again I couldn’t believe where I was and that I was naked. I shouldn’t have lavished on the butter body cream that morning as the gallery was so warm the butter body cream decided to come back out under my boobs. I used the tissue I was holding to wipe under my boobs every now and again. I’m not slim. Some people had perfect figures, others too thin, some too big. A few in their 20’s, some in their 30’s and all ages after that. Many in their 70’s and 80’s. People with friends, on their own, couples, pregnant ladies. There were all sorts there.

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I loved all the naked bodies looking at naked bodied art work. I felt so liberated. A place that we gathered in earlier had a big window from the ceiling to the floor. Below I could see into Boots pharmacy and down onto Half Moon Street. I naturally thought the window was tinted as all the people in Boots and all the people on the street didn’t take any notice of us. Later as a few of us talked near this window. I could see the shop assistants of Boots looking up at us. I waved and they waved back. The window wasn’t tinted !!! More of us gathered to wave down at them ,as they gathered more of their work colleagues to see us. Every new work colleague they brought to see us made us laugh at their reactions. They was a lot of laughing and waving. For two hours I walked around naked in an art gallery , then it was time to get dressed.I would have loved to have stayed naked longer.

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Now , I love looking at my friends and familys’ reaction when I tell them what I did. Each saying the same thing. “Nothing on, not even your knickers”. I did some thing not many people can ever do. I’m so proud of myself. I’ll be looking forward to more meetings like this.