By Elinor Taylor
Location: Jersey Street and towpaths, Ancoats
Water cuts my city in long, slow curves. Here I am again, walking the towpaths behind tall buildings, leaning on the rotting lock, searching my body for pains – bitten nails, shot nerves.
From the palette of the landscape I create you: flesh tones from the factory brickwork, eyes from the blue of a late flower, hair from a stray feather. Now feel the ice on the breeze, the gravel underfoot.
Now let’s act out some scenes. Let the space from here to that far wall be your studio. Make the mercury eye of your mirror from the dark water, the hot white lights from the bright winter sky. The scene’s set. Now the air smells of solvents and the silence ripples with the sound of your brushes on canvas.
I’m a pre-Raphaelite: red-haired, cream-curved, blue-eyed against crimson. All around are the raw materials of the body: gouache, pencil, oil. You pace the floor, sighing, frowning. I count the beams on the ceiling, feeling the time pass.
Three times we went through that performance before you kissed me. I wonder what became of that first painting.
Remember the morning. Make the sunrise from the embers of evening caught up there in the high glass of offices. When you woke you smiled, surprised, narrowing your eyes to focus.
‘This wasn’t supposed to be part of the plot,’ you said.
We fell in love anyway; circling each other until the ground between us disappeared, making looped conversations around shared points: Monet, Mahler, Shelley. Throwing a velvet rope around our territory. We fell in love, and when we stopped falling I knew that love isn’t made but conjured out the night, from smoke and mirrors and spirits, as I’m making you now.
It was summer. I lay stretched in a pool of sunlight while you worked. You were building texturally, from the bones upwards, covering my figure in layers of colour, substance. Wax, paper, heavy oils.