Ten easels in a circle,
flex snaking to the centre, fan-heater’s
tilted-up cobra-head, its hot jet
on her chicken legs, her bloated feeling
from not eating. She shivers
as they try out charcoal on her,
on big cheap paper, blacking in fishy ribs,
puckered-up nipples, empty skin rippling,
her breasts little pockets, pelvis jutted out,
neck swanlike, eyes whippetish,
each week better and better at measuring,
really getting her – one bold stroke a leg,
her arching back, neck stretched giraffesque
or like an elephant’s trunk held erect,
its thin skin ever more taut
until she crumples onto the floorboards –
abstract smatterings round her head like stars,
thick smear of ochre under her – the day she drops
flat out on a Pollock, no-one able to save her,
not all the talent in that room.
KUNST by Suki
There’s a life-model on the circuit called Roisin who is anorexic. I have never met her, but while in pose I have stared for hours at paintings of her on the walls of some of the life-rooms. She appears in a couple of books I have of certain artists’ work. She is skin and bone with vertical lines on her face. She is also popular and sought-after. Are those things linked?
I asked Hugh if he would consider booking me and Roisin together (not so strange – I have modelled in a pair before) because I have this pose in my mind’s eye: both of us seated, she in my lap like a little ribby bird, me with my arms round her. I want to protect her.
Hugh and his group (mainly retired males), who have in the past collectively expressed an aversion to fat which I have politically incorrectly found hilarious (“do you remember that one last year? Like a ball on two sticks. I couldn’t draw her”), have been employing Roisin. Terry and Tim also employ her. Whereas Bella at the gallery says she would be extremely uneasy about employing an anorexic, in case working as a life-model is helping to perpetuate the condition. I would have mixed feelings. If modelling is her main income, I would not want to compound her problems in life by not employing her. What would you do?
Anyway, Roisin has now disappeared. No-one can get hold of her. Phone not working. Everyone’s always asking – do you have any contact with Roisin?
I suppose the most likely thing is she is in hospital. After all, one in five anorexics dies of it.
I have been spooked by a book a poet friend from my Aberdeenshire days has written about her anorexic daughter. Spooked because ‘Anorexia’ is a character that moves into the house and has a voice of its own that sometimes comes out of her daughter. Like possession. A gripping, brilliant book; a frightening condition. ‘Anorexia and Bulimia in the Family’ by Grainne Smith
Susie Orbach – psychotherapist, author of ‘Fat is a Feminist Issue’ and kind blurb-writer for my forthcoming book A SMALL LIFE – has a book out called ‘The Body’ (2009), in which she says that the norm has become to worry about our shape and size. And it’s not just females: men too are targeted these days with steroids, sex aids and masculine-orientated diet products.
I do not have an eating disorder but I must admit I do not really enjoy eating any more, and that is a shame. I have a lot of anxiety around food these days, and I have strange eating habits. Maybe this is partly to do with…
Perhaps a loving partner would stop me from grazing manically on fistful after fistful of redskinned peanuts and would stop me from eating ten apples a day, topped off typically with around six oranges. That’s after the statutory breakfast banana (only one allowed per day). And the odd pear…
P.S. By the way, what do you think of this month’s new theme tune? (If your PC doesn’t have speakers you are missing out on my home page’s music…)