Pascale Petit on writing a poem for ‘The Charnel House’
August 1, 2014
I carried images of Tom’s extraordinary horsehead paintings with me everywhere for several months. Last Christmas I was staying in Paris on my winter writing retreat when I took Line 6, the métro aérien where it passes over the market of Boulevard de Grenelle. It was dark and as always as the métro pulled in to the Dupleix stop, I looked out for the third floor apartment where I used to live when I was a child. I had twice visited that apartment block and each time gone into the cellar at its pit where I was locked in as a child. Once, I tried knocking on the door of the flat but got no answer. From the métro I could see that the French windows were wide open and our living room blazed with light. It felt momentous seeing it, but for a long time couldn’t see how to write about it. I didn’t actually see anything, just the shock of the light, then the métro moved on.
In May I stayed in an apartment in rue du Pot de Fer for a fortnight to finish my collectionFauverie. I’d been more and more upset by the processes by which animals are slaughtered in France, even though French cuisine is my heritage. On one of my good writing days – when I managed to sleep well and start writing at 4am – I wrote two poems and one of them was for Tom. I started by looking at his paintings. I then watched an online film of Georges Franju’s Le Sang des Bêtes. I’ve always been a fan of Franju, especially of Eyes Without a Face but had not seen this one before. It’s an exquisite film but it made me feel sick. I looked at Tom’s paintings again and paused at Hung. It had always made me think of the apartment in the Boulevard de Grenelle but now I could see into it fully. Thanks to Tom I knew what went on in that scene.
Tom de Freston
Tom de Freston is an artist based in Oxford with his wife, Kiran Millwood Hargrave.
His practice is dedicated to the construction of multimedia worlds, combining paintings, film and performance into immersive visceral narratives.