Cardiff Character: Andy Lamb

Artists model, poet and outdoorsman lays bare his life.

Growing a beard to portray Guy Fawkes in a special life drawing session at the time of interview, Andy Lamb, 52, seems infinitely relaxed and entirely unfazed by anything life may bring his way. Sitting comfortably in the vault room where his group hosts life drawing sessions, he explains how his life is one of variation.

Originally from the South West, Andy has made Wales his home for the past 30 years, though he has no set address. Operating several businesses and creative endeavours from the van he calls home, Andy maintains what he describes as a very “itinerant” lifestyle which allows him the freedom to move from place to place.

Andy has worked as a life model for 25 years.

Andy has worked as a life model for 25 years

Creating the Collective

Following years of bad pay and poor conditions as an artists model, Andy was inspired to set up the Cardiff Life Model Collective that now hosts sessions with artists, colleges and open groups at the Little Man Coffee Company in Cardiff. Having been a life model for 25 years, Andy created the group in order to, “Drive up pay and working conditions for models.” He also hopes to generate more, better quality, work.

From a session at Little Man

Original sketch of Andy, completed in one of his life drawing sessions

In Cardiff, he has known models to be paid only £7.80 per hour before deductions, and with no provision for travel expenses. His group now adheres to the £15 per hour set out by the Register of Artists’ Models as a minimum and, according to Andy, now pays more to life models than anyone else in Wales.

It is a system that seems to be working. Andy mentions that he is, “Probably the most employed life model in the UK,” and the sessions held at Little Man can reach up to 45 attendees. The group recently suffered a drop in attendance, largely due to a change of venue and the relationship with their previous hosts, which Andy describes as difficult. However, there is no doubt that Andy’s group is back on its feet.

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Andy models for artists, colleges and at the Little Man Coffee Company

Man of many talents

Before reaching the age of 30 Andy directed another passion, outdoor sports, into a business which has since become Adventure Activities. Beginning with bike hire, he has expanded this business over a number of years to lead groups in coasteering, gorge walking, mountain biking and more.

“Working, for me, is developing new ideas”

Essentially, he is interested in any outdoor activity that doesn’t need a set location. He is now looking forward to a trip to Tenerife, where he will walk with seven guests from the airport to the top of Mount Teide, the highest point in Spain at 3,718 metres above sea level.

Confessing that, “Working, for me, is developing new ideas,” Andy admits that he could never be idle. He is a published writer of what he calls “unpleasant” poetry focussing on relationships; his first anthology even includes a piece about his dog. Now working on a second book and compiling an anthology of work from the writers group he runs, he is currently looking for a way to help people engage with poetry.

Though he is almost manically busy, Andy says that doing many different things is good for a better quality of life. This, he says, “Is the only way to live.”

Below, Andy explains why life drawing is so important.