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Pig

50p they used to cost. 50p for half a head. Half a pig’s head. I always wanted a whole head but after several butchers had described to me how a pig is slaughtered; how it is strung up by its hind legs; how, whilst squealing, its throat is cut; How it is sliced in two, down the length of its body, straight through its head; And how, then and only then, are the half heads removed from the half bodies, I got the picture.

I got the picture and my own pig headed determination to find a whole head subsided as I settled for the half head. If it was positioned carefully at the right angle from the right view point and with the right amount of light you would never know. You might even believe, momentarily that the pig was sleeping, peacefully. Its long yellow eyelashes semi obscuring an almost completely closed black eyeball. Its wet snout, shiny and reflective and a feint curl to its lip (is it smiling at me?) revealing its hard solid teeth, teeth that had chewed tree bark and cracked bones.

The surface of its face was unblemished, warm fleshy tones pouring their way into and over each other across the contours of the plump cheek, interrupted occasionally by a small out crop of short thick bristle. Just beneath the surface of its skin ochre and lilac hues agitate each other and give the surface pinks and purples more luminosity.

The warmth from the carefully placed angle poise lamp was slowly raising the temperature of the pig’s half head. Her almost closed eye was definitely more open now and the little curl in the corner of her mouth was turning into a wide grin. I could see a lot more teeth now and fearing that my painting might start to lose its relationship with the subject matter upon which it was based I decided to return the half head to the fridge where the drop in temperature would wipe the smile off of the pigs half face and close its one eye again.

Martin Hinchcliffe, March 2010, 81 Norfolk Road, Sheffield, Circa 1987.

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