Strings 1

‘dreams jangling with lost connections’

March 2024


In the dining room,
table pushed to one side and
floorboards protected

by polythene, she
put on teal latex gloves then
powdered them. I stood

in plain underwear
on bubblewrapped blocks of wood,
same height to suggest

heels. Weight on my right
leg, I held a bowl on my
right hip, looked to the

left. She covered me
in cling film, from ankles to
belly button. An

act of care, she passed
the roll between her hands and
my negative space.

Like wearing long socks
underneath skinny jeans, my
veins could feel the squeeze.

She taped my outline,
made edges to cut with safe
scissors after the

plaster had set. I
began to forget my flesh,
as strips dipped in cold

water encased my
plastic layer. Awareness
was new, stakes higher

than a life class. I
realised then what it meant to
be still. My lower

half bound, my feet were
the numbness before pins and
needles sets in. It

hardened around me,
as part of me, this new skin.
I was container

and contained. She tried
not to harm me when slicing
me open, pulling

the cast away bit
by bit. This allowed my legs
to acclimatise

slowly. They had been
excavated, freed into
room-temperature air.

She repeated the
process for my torso and
arms; cling film, tape, strips

of plaster, then wait.
I breathed heavily inside
my new shell, re-lived

the occasion when
I collapsed and could not move
for nearly an hour.

I tried to fathom
how Jean-Dominique Bauby
might have felt; his mind

watchful, his body
an enforced restriction. I
could not comprehend.

As she dislodged my
exterior I felt the
pressure lifting from

my lungs and once more
I was able to stretch, to
inhabit the room.

I left behind a
version of me resting on
her floor in pieces.


In her studio
at the end of the garden
I resumed the pose.

She smothered my hands
in Vaseline to save them
from the alginate

which, like lumpy green
cake mixture, she applied with
spoon and spatula.

It dried like rubber,
made moulds of me gripping the
bowl. As I wiggled

free I thought about
modelling; had anyone
ever drawn the hairs

on my fingers? She
repeated the process for
my ankles; the cold

green heap capturing
details in my skin and the
motion beneath it.

KAT CHIMONIDES is a writer and artist from Norwich. Her practice explores life drawing, the life model character in works of fiction, and the nude in visual art. With seven years’ experience as an artist’s model, Kat approaches her research through the model’s gaze. Recent work appears in This is not a biography* published by The Yellow Paper.