The Red Portrait

Friday, 8 October

Luke sent another poem this morning and attached to his email is a thumbnail photograph of Leonard’s latest portrait of him. Luke vehemently insists that Leonard does not show their work to anyone and he has only allowed me to take one photograph of him from the workroom, so I realise that the act of sending the photograph must have put a tremendous strain on him. The poem that accompanies the photo is a love poem rather than one of his darker writings...perhaps he is mellowing after all....

‘Promise me,
If you love me,
That when we can tolerate no more
We will consume one another
So that the candle will never reach the mark
And the white stallion will never find our door.’

Luke and Leonard have resolved their dispute and they are bonding closer than ever before. In fact Luke has been taking a much more active part in the creative process and he has been suggesting props, camera angles and costume choices during our sessions. We took time out from painting yesterday to have another photography session and Luke assisted Leonard with setting up the camera equipment and fixing the lighting. They prepared me for the shoot in a reverential silence like two morticians working with a cadaver, scraping back my hair and tying it in a bun at the back of my skull so tightly that I had a severe headache throughout the remainder of the day. My face was cleansed of all makeup expect for a heavy black mascara and the photograph was shot through a red coloured filter. Leonard gave no spoken direction and I moved instinctively as he manipulated me into the correct position. At one point Luke started fussing with my hair and fiddling with my clothing like he was dressing a doll; it was nice to have someone pay such close attention to me but I felt terribly dehumanised!

They were both captivated by the final photograph from the very second that they saw it on the camera display screen but they spoke impersonally and analytically about my appearance as though I was not in the room with them, which was very odd indeed. Leonard calls the photograph ‘The Red Portrait’ and he has asked Luke to print out multiple copies. I did not ask to see it, not because I disliked the staging or the composition of the photo, but because I am struggling with the image of myself that is being reflected in Leonard's work recently. The photographs seem darker, almost inhuman, and the severities of the physical changes that I see in them are upsetting, no matter how carefully Leonard tries to conceal them.