The Mannequin

The outrageously talented Chimera artist Susan Omand and I are making a mannequin, one part at a time. For each part I write a brief text, which I email to Susan, who then interprets it and paints what she imagines.

It won’t surprise those who are familiar with my work that there will be thirteen parts to our mannequin.

The mannequin project will not result in a book; Susan has had an innovative publishing idea which we’ll keep schtum about for now.



Put your ear to my lips. Can you hear the sea? You can only imagine my perfect teeth, my mousetrap tongue. I won’t say a word. Everything is silence, thought, hours stretched tight over polished cheekbones. Don’t mistake it for serenity. In your dream you stumbled across a pair of false teeth, grinning on a shingle beach. No one else was around, so you pocketed it. Bad bad bad. Theft is culpable, even when it’s just imagined. I’ll remind you of that later, when the grandfather clock stirs to mournful life in your hallway. Never eat Shredded Wheat. Can you hear the sea yet?



I prefer being a verb to being a noun. It’s so easy to get stuck otherwise, don’t you think? Butchers think I’m poetic. They grow glassy-eyed over my marble veining. But they don’t appreciate the mundanity of my role, supporting the head, ensuring the state doesn’t totter. Academics consider me a liminal space, the threshold between knowledge and passion, metaphysics and belching. I think of myself as a conduit. The rats know me well.


Texts copyright James Knight. Images copyright Susan Omand. All rights reserved.

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