Illustration: James St Findlay

Colin Clout shut the door to his London flat, and poured himself a whisky. He had already consumed two glasses of lukewarm chardonnay on account of their being free, followed by one of merlot after the Sculptress had insisted on a post-exhibition drink, and then talked in earnest, ceaseless tones about ‘the materiality of clay’. Neither her agenda, nor the rising inflection with which she had pushed it at him, had been to his tastes. Yet her looks, which were of the pink-cheeked, ample-bosomed (one could say pastoral) variety most definitely were. He had smiled, perhaps even leered, throughout her affectations—and then felt as old and grimy as his once good suit…

Colin added a splash of water to his whisky, an act which reminded him, firstly, of the Art Monthly Christmas party, and, secondly, of the review that he was meant to write for them. He turned on his computer and typed one of the artists in one of the Tate’s summer blockbusters into Google. A series of black and white squares immediately flashed across the screen. Each square’s background depicted crumbling plaster walls, splintering floorboards and what might have been stains or shadows shimmering with an eerie silver light, while each square’s foreground depicted a young, sometimes naked woman, either crouched upon, or holding up a mirror with the reflective side turned outwards.

Colin paused, and then typed the Sculptress into Instagram. Straight away a second series of black and white squares appeared. This time however, the palette was due to a digital filter, and not the non-existent film, and likewise the shape of the images merely mimicked that of medium-format photography. Although he generally preferred Hefe’s cornfield glow and other, soft-focus nods to the erotica of his youth he was also aware of how the Sculptress’ selection, or non-selection of colours created a bridge between her predecessor’s oeuvre and herself, and therefore positioned her as… well… as something.

Colin’s gaze flitted over a smoothed out patch of crows’ feet—now glaringly apparent on the 19” PC monitor—before returning to the comparatively more naturalistic blur of the Sculptress’ breasts. ‘The materiality of clay’ he murmured, in a bid to invoke her previous attempt to reframe the obvious in the belief that he would, in turn, frame her in much the same way that her use of social media did—but to no avail. Already he was lost, between Google and Instagram, both of which made his trousers twitch. Did he really need to go all the way to Liverpool to write a review? He wondered, reaching for the bottle and thus the end to the horrors of Glasgow, Berlin and, especially, Margate, that had marked the preceding weeks, Or even leave the house?

Life in Motion: Egon Shiele/Francesca Woodman, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Waterfront, 24 May – 23 September


Susan Finlay is an artist and writer based in Berlin. Current and forthcoming projects include The Unruly Glove, the Green Bum and the Sickly Trickle, a series of poems published to coincide with Zoe Williams’ exhibition of the same name at Galerie Anotine Levi, Paris; Objektophilia, a novella serialized in Egress Magazine; The Brexit Chronicles, an audio-series for Ackerman Daly; and Isodora, a solo exhibition at MoHA, Austin. Her latest novel, Our Lady of Everything, will be published by Serpent’s Tail in Spring 2019.