Elizabeth MacKinnon moves to Saint John, New Brunswick in 1939 to find inspiration for her poetry in the bohemian life of the city's central peninsula. Swept up in the vibrant society of the city's poets, painters, potters, dancers and playwrights, she finds herself joining their struggles to make sense of making art in a time of economic depression.
Inhabiting the lives of the artists who find themselves in the port city taking refuge from the Depression, Lay Figures explores relationships between art and lived experience, artist and subject, artist and audience, and between margins and centre, and traces the development of a young female writer against the backdrop of the Depression and early war years in Saint John. In a story that couples bitter despair with exuberant triumphs, Elizabeth and her fellow artists make life-changing discoveries about politics and social responsibility, desire and betrayal. (From Nimbus Publishing)
Mark Blagrave is a fiction writer from Saint Andrews, Brunswick. He is the author of the short story collection Salt in the Wounds and novel Silver Salts, a finalist for the Commonwealth First Novel Award (Canada and Caribbean).
From the book
"You won't be able to wash it off. Smashing the walls would be the only solution, I'm afraid. the pigment is part of the plaster, you see."
The landlord stops scrubbing, short of breath, sweating even in his singlet, and most likely overdue for his lunch. I don't think he wants a lesson in fresco painting, but there would be no poitn in his slapping a careless coat or two of paint over the work.
"It's a calcium-based colour you see, and it bonds into the plaster as it dries. Quite permanent. It will just come back to the surface if you paint it over."
I am not sure this is true, but I am frustrated with William, and, after only a few minutes looking at it, I would like to see it utterly and irretrievably destroyed.
The landlord and I stare at the grotesque figures leering out from the plaster, which cover every inch of the four walls and one corner of the ceiling. I wonder what he is seeing them.
From Lay Figures by Mark Blagrave ©2020. Published by Nimbus Publishing.