Fra Beecher

An open call responding to Body of Work.

The artist put a call out for responses to her latest series, Body of Work. Using the starting point of a single image, the whole project or the theme(s) contained within the work, people responded with poems, short texts and other written works.

With contributions from Susie Wild, Christina Thatcher and Steven Kenward. 

Susie Wild

Scars? I have many, but when I disrobe and stand before the horseshoe of easels for the first time I wonder which they will see. Some are obvious: the playground knees, the birthmarks, removed, that have grown as I have. One above my right breast fading beneath a new sticky-outy mole. One on my left temple, often hidden by a fringe or a side-parting.

/ But what of all the others? / The small nicks from irons, knives chopping vegetables, misplaced furniture, misplaced self? / What else will their paper mark-making, their severe shading, reveal? / Coming to the surface, as if I am a human Magic 8 Ball shaken by their watch? / What horizons will they see in my blank canvas, distant stare? /

        Scars, hands, genitals often go missing
       in the quick sketches.

        Instead artists study space, more prominent
        facial features, split the body’s meat up

        into shape, light, dark, angles
        using charcoal, chalk, paint, laptops.

        Project shards of themselves as they work,
        layering their scars upon the model’s own.

Warning: Additional scars, if temporary, may occur on the day. The impact of prolonged leaning and propping with cushions. Slow-motion self-harm. Surface friction. Some grooves pin-shallow, other indents cheese-wire deep and beginning to smart.

/ Do I invite this? / ‘You must suffer for your art,’ they say / but should the artist’s model? / Limbs fire-licked as if they mark me on my body as well as the page? / As if their fingers and eyes have pressed down on me, holding my pose in place. /

        Pink elbows, redder knees
        think: carpet burns, eczema patches, playground scars

        hopscotched and cross-hatched from the ground surface,
        bedsheet-creased, as if just having woken from a long sleep.

        Sofa buttons pressing their imprint onto nude surface,
        skin raw, revealing body pressure points

        before the model hides them under robe,
        prepares to take the damage home.

“The whole room practices together the act of looking, of seeing, of making her whole.” - Christina Thatcher

Christina Thatcher

Object / Subject

Written in response to Fra Beecher’s photography collection, Body of Work (2018-2020), which explores the physicality of the female life model.

She is learning to become
a wooden triangle, a sturdy cane,
a shallow stage. She knows

            her body is both an original and a mimic.

She has seen how masking tape
can recreate, leave a testament
to her heels. She has started the process
of stepping out of her sex and into
honourable objecthood.

            Put her body to work. Her limbs know how
            to recline.

She has learned to trust the spinning-wheel but
not yet managed to reinterpret stares, to unshame,
unpick her whole self off the floor and walk
out of the studio steady. She is always

            leaving impressions // receiving impressions.

She has not yet mastered the art of naked,
unstilted conversation. She watches how they shade her body:

            like a pear, an apple, a squashed banana.
            Artists omit more than just blocks and risers.

The whole room practices together the act
of looking, of seeing, of making her whole.

“[...]but as a precaution, as a means to prepare my body, I struggle to start that first, careful breath.” - Steven Kenward

Steven Kenward


With movement
we abandon our shapes.
Legs fold between torso and floor.
Creases form amongst fat and muscle,
testing the space of a person.

The tape invites me like a hanger laden with coats and cloaks.
Try them.

This is how much room a person took.
Do I need the same?
Would I use it differently?
Can my joints support and display and reveal the best of these shapes?
Should I stretch before I try?

Can I compress,
compact myself,
without the weaker

tendons                 (right knee, right ankle, right forearm)

tense?                   (calling out relax with pangs of cramp)

Open up into my volume.
Easily applied on the train –
                                                8.42 am, distracting my nerves, stalling panic.

Deep breaths.             Even numbers.                                 Multiples of four.

                        Pauses.                              Circular breathing.

Eyes closed.                 Trying to ignore             the deodorants and perfumes and residual

smells of lotions                         and shower gels                 drifting beyond the boundaries
of the other passengers.                                                                     Evidence of cleanliness.

                                            Irritating me from the inside out.

Their morning routines disturbing mine.
Polished, smooth sculptures.
A splintered, rough sketch

mounted to the plastic seat, the slow sighs (out for 16, hold for 16)
send the questions down the line. A measured reaction.

– but as a precaution, as a means to prepare my body,
I struggle to start that first, careful breath.
Without the oxygen: contraction.
Without the counting: tension.
Stuck like a steel frame.
Strained, but strong.

© Contributing Artists. All Rights Reserved.
Design by Josh Adam Jones, 2020.