A Void

womb

A Void

In this, I have agreed to what was termed ‘A life modelling process’ for an artist seeking volunteers for a project he is working on. I stand before him in my dressing gown, nude underneath and wondering what he wants me to do, he tells me:

‘Don’t worry, I have done this lots of times before.’

From this, I am somewhat reassured, but still, air a little caution.

‘I just need you to lie down so I can paint you with latex.’

In this he shows me the latex, it’s white and when he paints a little of my arm it feels cold but pleasant on my form. I agree to the process and he helps me untie my dressing gown belt, although naked I feel comfortable in front of him, he has put me at ease.

I lie down under his direction and move into the position he needs me to be in. He starts painting around my neck area, slowly but surely working his way down. He is careful but professional as he covers my breasts, making sure he only touches my nipples with the horse hair bristles of the paint brush.

Working his way further down my body he comes to the groin area. I become nervous again, worrying about what he is about to do.

‘Relax, I have done this many times before.’

I let my muscles fall low, then with warm air, he blows gently inside myself. From this, like magic, I open right up like a great white shark about to launch an attack.

‘That’s right, good, you’re doing well.’

He directs, then he moves onto his back and slides his head and upper body inside my womb. From this, he begins to paint, carefully and professionally, coating the walls of my womb and ovaries in latex. When he has finished he edges out carefully and puts each hand delicately on the inside of my legs. Then without touching me with his lips he sucks air from the inside of myself. I return to my normal size, at ease with everything going on, amazed at what has been performed by this genius.

From this, he works down my legs in a similar motion. He then turns me over to work on my back and lower body. So relaxed with the brush motion I am almost asleep when he finishes:

‘We just need to wait for it to dry.’

He whispers, in this, he picks up an old fashioned guitar and begins to sing folk songs.

He wakes me up to tell me that it’s time to peel the latex off. I stand up for him and he begins stretching off the suited coating, carefully going over my breasts. After my ribs he stops and places a hand on each side of myself, then he kisses my forehead, gently and childlike in motion. As I smile he gets back to action, working the form off down to my lower body.

After a gentle shake, my womb falls out. Before me, I see its squashed in structure, perfect on the inner coating, but de-revelled on the outer. My ovaries flop out almost deformed and entwined, messy and forlorn. Ahead of me, I see the babies, I will never give birth to and the children I will never raise. The bedtime stories I will never read, the play parks I will never go to, the football matches I will never go to and the school plays I will never attend. In this he finishes the removal process, then he shakes out the body-like creation. He clips it onto a line, in this, it stands tall and strong, an independent being, strong, singular, but of great value.

Alison Little

A Void is a flash Fiction works from Alison Little. This piece was first performed in the Hornby Rooms, Central Library, Liverpool for International Women’s Day in 2018. The subsequent year it read for an event marking the same celebrations held during the 209 Women exhibition marking the centenary of women being able to vote in the UK (Although restricted to those over 30 and with property).

The illustration was also created by Alison Little using a bamboo dip stick pen and Indian ink. It feature a close up of a womb and creates an impression of scarring. She is looking to make a sculptural piece from latex later in 2020 to represent the works.

More about 209 Women exhibition, Open Eye Gallery

Lister Steps Up!

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Last weekend for Heritage open day the former library, Lister Steps throw open the doors for the public to see how the £3.9 million restoration project was progressing.

Lister Steps, the Andrew Carnegie library, based on the corner of Lister Drive and Green Lane in Tuebrook, Liverpool, was opened in 1905. The building was funded by the wealthy philanthropist: Andrew Carnegie, it became Grade II listed in the mid-eighties due to being of architectural and historical interest.

After serving as a functioning library for over a hundred years it was forced to close in 2006 due to health and safety concerns. Under the period of closure, the library suffered from theft and vandalism in addition to general neglect. The major damage was as a result of the lead flashing being stolen from the roof, resulting in rain waters flooding the interior. Severe damage to the timber structure was to follow.

After a small grant in 2014 to run a feasibility study for restoration a large scale funding bid was progressed. In 2016 a £3.9 million grant was awarded from Heritage lottery funding, Liverpool City Council, Hemby Trust, Eleanor Rathbone Foundation and Power to Change.

The final development is intended as a community Hub offering; childcare, café, meeting space, hot desking, events and services for the community including volunteering opportunities. The exterior ground looks to offer a variety of landscaping. The customary formal garden and traditional lawn, but also wild woods, the green credentials of allotment planters and a faraway land designated for use with the youngsters of the nursery.

H.H Smith Construction was offered the renovation contract, utilising many trades including those with traditional craft skills. Currently, a large pod has been set up inside the building to allow for work to continue. The foliage of the grounds has been cleared fully to allow for new planting from next spring. Flood damage and dry root are being repaired, internal structures and staircase put into place. The original high windows which were ideal for the bookcases of the library are being lowered in the nursery area to bring light in at child height.

A great start, we will look forward to developments!

More about Lister Steps

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