The Artist

by Nicole Kelly

Her hands are assured and confident. A skilled professional. 

“An artist for the modern world—truly exceptional” – The Age 

His skin is soft and doughy in her hands. He is a monster of a man, but his bulk seems less imposing now he lays prostrate on the studio floor, leaking into every corner of her tiny room. This is the place where she feels capable—not scared and cowering.  

The stark white of his nakedness catches the golden glow of the moonlight from outside, which streams through the window, lighting her work.  

 “What Mallard can do with a piece of lino is astounding. Her cuts are sharp and clean; the resulting pieces have both imagination and darkness. – The Art Review 

The small scalpel resting in her hand is her favourite, handle smooth from use. She uses the familiar blade to create the distinct, intricate patterns in hard linoleum squares. Swift, sure cuts to make thick, intersecting lines.  

“Mallard’s designs are sharp, witty and astute. Just when you think you know her work, she turns it, and you, on your head.” – H. Golding (Reviewer) 

Her artist’s mind opens her to the exquisite beauty around her. A dawn sky greeting her after a night of frenetic creation. The same shades of pink and purple which he patterned across the tops of her arms when she said she would leave.  

He had stolen her voice. Left her to only speak through her work. So now he is her canvas. 

“Mallard is an expert in making us feel. Feel something. Feel anything. Feel everything.” – National Gallery 

She reaches her hands deep into his chest cavity. The space she has opened in her husband, expecting to find only emptiness. She cradles the lump of muscle which had once drummed the rhythm of life in his chest. Each beat of his heart marking time, as his fists slammed into her in a syncopated tempo.  

‘There is both fragility and strength in Mallard’s pieces. When you see the strength of her lines contrasting with the whimsical nature of her prints.’ – Art Links Magazine 

They were the inverse of each other. Her and him. She had loved his strength and he her fragility. Until her own strength emerged, growing more potent with every success. His fear drove him to hold on tighter. Until his hands became a noose around her neck.  

 “In her hands, everything is art.” – Art Monthly 

She dips her finger in the sticky liquid, thick as honey. Scrawls her initials across the bare wall above where he lay. She smiles. No matter their reviews, the world will be sure that she is the artist.