Each week, we pick a short fiction piece from our archives to feature as our story of the week. This week, we’ve chosen a story about art by Mark Bicton.
Mark Bicton is interested in environmental change and how we respond. His stories explore dis/connects of culture, nature and our sense of place, past and future. He has been writing stories as a form of exploration for some years. He completed an MFA in Creative Writing, receiving a Distinction for a set of stories on themes of ‘rewilding’ and ‘sense of place’.
‘After Foxes’ features a nature-themed art exhibition that takes a strange turn.
Dan leaned closer into the picture as a couple pushed past behind him. Laughing at the framed photographs on the wall, they made their way along the gallery’s narrow landing. In their wake, voices and the waft of cheap wine welled once more up the stairs from the ground floor. Dan stayed a moment longer, focused on the nearest photo as the couple’s loud amusement at everything on offer disappeared around the corner.
The rainforest image had been miniaturised and crudely edited to show the jungle sitting on top of a barbecue. Garish flames, superimposed over the trees, reached up to the night above. Smoke and fleeing birds coiled into the sky. Beneath, a group of cartoon cows stood on their hind legs, laughing and chewing burnt vegetation from paper plates clasped improbably in their front hooves. Dan looked at the label again. ‘Eating out under the stars.’ Okay, that was it. The booze here was bad, yes, but better than the so-called art. Another drink might just take the edge off.
He headed on towards the top of the stairs, past a couple of kids; teenagers, he realised. Standing tight together, they had their arms wrapped around each other, the sides of their heads touching, attention fully on a group of photos. Insect after insect, wrapped in miniature shiny coats of mock paramedic’s rescue foil. Dan grimaced. Squeezing by, he glanced at one. ‘Recovery Position II. £500 unframed.’ Jesus. The girl moved slightly to let him pass.