I stand here staring at the white marble stone in front of me, its form taking on life as I reflect upon its creation. I am mesmerised by its contours, fascinated by the way the light hits each curve casting muted shadows over the smooth almost translucent surface. Clouds ebb and flow under the direction of the sun and time means little – an hour passes within minutes. For now the ageless white stone appears harsh in contrast to the soft soul of its fleshly counterpart.
The figure is sensuous, life like and after all these years still ignites feelings of attractionwithin me.
Is it vain to say I am The Creator, the man who brought her forth from a slab of rock by carving passion into herundefined form?
She was the first naked woman I had ever seen, the first live model to enter my teenage years.
The art class had been arranged for after school as an extra curricula activity. So as to avoid excessive paper work, and opposition by determined staff members, The Art Master had rented the room for a ‘nominal fee’ and only those attending needed to obtain parental permission.
I had not long turned 16 and loved to draw, paint or mess with anything close to arty but my favourite mediums were always the more tactile ones such as papier-macheor clay. I had taken the nude drawing option out of an expectation that it would increase my final term mark and I was not prepared for what was to happen to me in class. The others, there were eight of us, acted as if this was normal and perhaps it was. Perhaps I was the only one affected by her beauty.
There she sat and there I stared. Well I tried not to but my gaze would not remove itself from her fleshly thighs and breasts. I could neither tell you the colour of her eyes nor whether she was short or tall. Awe had entered my body and I was unprepared for it. Don’t get me wrong I knew what a naked body looked like – we all have access to the internet don’t we? But I had never seen it right there in front of me – almost touchable. My life had somehow been sheltered. Perhaps my parents had been a little too conservative and my friends a little too modest and the schools I attended a little too strict.
Naive is the word that comes to me now, here I was thinking I would take all this in my stride,just pick up the pencil, listen to the teachers voice inside my head from theprevious weeks of class on how to assess proportions, observe light flow and then just let my hand draw what it saw.
I may as well have drawn my own cock – it was all I could think about. My only consolation was the table that I sat behind hid my embarrassing arousal. I laugh now and consider I was probably not the only one suffering this condition.
She was 26 and I deliberatedwhether or not to attend the remaining seven weeks of class, I would have easily bowed outexceptThe Art Master was very pleased with my work and persuaded me to continue.
The following weeks were easier than I expected and I achieved a lot from the simple sketches that began to amass the pages of my art folio.Her image seemed to follow me constantly and in bed of a night she consumed my mind with desire until I would give in. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy masturbating but I did carry the shame conditioned by my upbringing and went about the weeks in a somewhat peculiar state of confusion.
Each week she arrived and sat or stood in various poses. Some weeks the classic lounge on the sofa with soft lighting and relaxed atmosphere and other weeks standing with a strong harsh light centred from behind giving her a semi silhouetted appearance. The Art Master encouraged us to shift seats and to view her from all angles.
My sketches became soft or bold as the feeling took me and when the eight weeks were up I started to morph them from pencils and charcoals intowater and acrylic colours placingher in real or imagined surroundings.
We were never introduced; this was The Art Masters doing as he wanted us to see her as we would and not to know more ofher than that. So she never spoke and I could only imagine how she sounded or the mannerisms which she used when she did such.
For me no expectation equated to no disappointment as I remembered how it felt when I discovered the hot sexy voice of my adored radio announcer was covering up age and obesity.
‘She’ became my obsession. Not on a daily basis but whenever I was to draw anyone it would inevitable end up looking like her. Eventually her two dimensional form became clay and a series of glazed figurines adorned my shelf like trophies from a sporting event. Even after graduating school and becoming apprenticed to The Stone Mason her image did not leave me. It would be the one I’d use for any carving or replication of the female form. Sometimes the image was reproduced with wrinkles or a hair do from the photo in front of me but never the less if you removed the superficial extra’s that give individuals their personalities the core was always the same, it was She.
Working for The Stone Mason gave me the opportunity to practise my craft. As long as I did the work required The Stone Mason had no problem with me using the place as my own. He was more than happy to enable me to develop my skills and as time went on we became business partners. Some of it was business as usual, grave stones, monuments, plaques etc. but over time, on site or on line you could order nearly any stone carved image you could imagine. Whether it was small natural items such as frogs and beetles carved into stone or gothic candle holders amidst holly and ivy,my art was becoming popular, turnover was increasing and I was receiving a good number of larger commissioned works to complete.
‘She’, that became her title, was a work that had been commissionedbyTheold Art Collector for his private residence. His request was for that of a woman -a woman to be placed in the foyer of his mansion to greet his guests. A woman sensuous enough to delight without being a blatant whore and yet, The Old ArtCollectorhad said, a women whose naked bodywould draw enough attention to itself thatall his guests would want to return for a second look.
It took me nearly two years to accomplish the taskand even though he paid me handsomely, when the time came, I was reluctant to give her up, in fact I regretted signing the contract and went as far as asking him if he could wait another 12to 18 months for me to replicate another She. Of course I knew it would be an impossible task to repeat as this statue was the one – the one that captured all my thoughts, feelings and desires -The one that epitomised my obsession. Needless to say when The Old ArtCollector first saw She he could not part with her either and would not let me renege on the contract.
At the time my regret caused me a lot of anxiety and although TheOld Art Collector exhibited no empathy towards me he did come round to an agreement to be put in place upon his death.
You are possibly thinking that I became more obsessively possessed after this time but I did not. I consider myself a fairly typicalman. Over the years I have had the normal amount of short termand the normal amount of long term relationships with the normal amount of male and female partners.I am not in a relationship at the moment and I amcontent to be in this position – it makes life less complicated.
Once I even met The Model who had been the foundation of my career in art. She never knew who I was and if it hadn’t been for her grieving mother I would never have recognised her. Infact with clothes on, two pre-pubescent kids in tow and a post pregnancy body she could easily have been anyone of my customers standing at the counter in front of me.
They came into the show room to organise a monument for her mother’s recently departed husband. They wanted a particular photo of him to be etched onto the plaque. It was as her mother flipped through the family album to find the right photo that she paused on a particular page. The photo was of a beach scene with mother and daughter standing on the edge of the water looking towards the camera. The daughter was wearing a very skimpy bikini and I instantly recognised her as The Model from the art class.
Did she sound like I expected? I had no expectations so it did not matter. Was I attracted to her? No, not even curious as to how her life had turned out. For me she had just been the carrier of an image that appealed to me, one that I had created and recreated until it had become something other than her, something that took on a life of its own, a god no less, that I had conceived just for myself and it was not something that I needed to share with her. And so I didn’t, I just did the job I was paid to do and went on with my life. I was not even concerned that she had aged or changed in anyway. The woman in the showroom was just a customer.
So that brings me back to here, a place where I stand and look at She, rekindling the emotion that went into her creation, remembering each chiselled movement, each polished curve, each sinew, muscle and detail as I formed hercurvaceousbody. The Old ArtCollector looked after her well for the few years that he had her in his possession. She stood just inside the front entrance of his mansion and greeted all who passed into the house with her infinite grace and sensuality.
Now She stands here where I can sit in her shadow or view her in the distance from my work shop window, where I can wander over and visit her whenever I choose. Where I can come and place flowers at her feet and talk to her while she resides extravagantly nakedas The Head Stone on The Old Art Collector’s grave.
Demelza is a New Zealand born writer who escaped to Tasmania late last century. She now resides in a converted petrol station directly above a convict built tunnel. Demelza loves writing poetry, short stories and has almost completed her first novel. Some of her work has been published online and can be viewed at http://www.narratorinternational.com/ .