She saves nail-clippings – shades of pink – in an empty bottle of Breck shampoo, decants hundreds and thousands into tiny jars with cut-glass stoppers. She stores onion skins, shrivelled mushrooms and a phial of mercury in drawers either side of her dressing-table mirror.
She has a whole suitcase of shoes (with the section removed for hanging suits) – wedges, ankle-straps, peep-toes, sling-backs with detachable bows; Anello and Davide one-bars (from London, cash on delivery); designs a costume – shoes dangle from her shoulders, her face is the sole of a shoe – spends a week sewing sequins round a ball of cloth, burns matchsticks in an apple-core, sticks pins in Vaseline.
From Lewis’ she buys a small man in a black suit, places him on a miniature sewing machine under where the needle would be; sinks him in ox-blood shoe polish creating an earthquake; surrounds it in fake flies. She props him behind a red cross amongst the Listerine and antiseptic, stores him in a long box covered in crepe paper, closes the lid. She has more than one of him
Melting wax ground on polished zinc, she blackens the surface with the tip of a flame, scratches into it with the point of a needle; bites the exposed metal in a bath of Nitric acid, feathering away the bubbles. She likes how her printed images are back to front. At her final show she displays in a posh case, a papoose about an inch long with bead eyes. She gives an apple to the external examiner.
She begins without an idea; a freshly grounded etching plate, hard and unblemished. The first mark she makes is not in an obvious place, central say, or two thirds down, it merely is, as though it has landed from the sky. She lets it be, uncovering raising to the surface. Sometimes she recognises the heel of a shoe, a pair of scissors and so on; from a bow comes the hair it is tied to, the side of a face, a torso, the arm of a chair, a lamp maybe, a chest of drawers.
from ‘The beating of wings’ (Hearing Eye 2006)