MLitt Art Writing School of Fine Art

Enxhi Mandija (she/her)

A stretched canvas is photographed mid-air as it falls from a run-down wall partially covered by a large blooming purple buddleia plant

Enxhi Mandija is an artist and writer.

The Mechanics of a Metaphor is her Master’s Project, a book of prose poetry and photographs exploring painting as a displaced familial practice, the effects of language as material and the labile boundary between memory and fiction. The paintings, developed alongside the text as part of its process and critical development, are realised with decades-old oil paints passed down from a family member. Never showcased, they have been sent away, to be stored, perhaps archived.

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The Mechanics of a Metaphor
A stretched canvas is photographed mid-air as it falls from a run-down wall partially covered by a large blooming purple buddleia plant

The Mechanics of a Metaphor

Extracts from Master’s Project, The Mechanics of a Metaphor. 


The ear bug accompanies her throughout the summer day. Safely lodged in the shell of her auricle, lingers un sottile fischio, for the most part imperceptible.

There is paper you don’t want to waste. Faded to a cream colour, it insists. It keeps turning up everywhere you go, because you keep tucking it into every suitcase, backpack, box of books, tote bag you move with, waiting, once more, to be used. And you would love to, instead of the cheap stuff you end up buying with the excuse that you need it for practice, for work that is only ever a draft, a temporary measure.

There is a limited amount of the old paper; it has to accommodate work that befits it. There can’t be any wastage. Keep it until it lasts or it, once again, outgrows its purpose.

Material heaves hefts aggravates. The paintings accumulate in a supermarket bag, carefully layered between newspaper sheets; not much of a hindrance, but enough that they can’t be ignored. Sentences stacked, encrusted.

Around the object washed-up, the cuttlebone word, the surface of time sharpens to a needle-point. Punctum temporis – where the instant peels open its husk for us to harpoon our past into it. All you have, gather about yourself, preen in place with a pin. Speckled with perforations, shedding and threading and fraying.

A large painting on the wall. I have been trying to find out if it’s an original or a copy, and so far I have not come to any conclusions. There is a violet square towards the bottom in which a thumb-sized portion of the canvas has been scratched clean – I have scratched it clean.

There may have been a friend with me. The paintbrush a brisk fruscio against the canvas. The horror at the sight of the once clean new tip now purple stained. The gap on the painting, for the most part imperceptible, where you can see the bare canvas, quel sottile fischio.

Perhaps, it has to do with how a book is bound.

The pages can be glued to a spine, following one another like ribs, unmovable – think of the comb-like structure of a fishbone. But a book could also have its pages pinned to a costa – a rib and a coastline. Bound to the edge, the rib of the land. Pages the waves.