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  • Writer's pictureKaren Ruffles

What do you want ?

Of all my creations, the one I get asked about most often is Stephen. It all started with a song - the actual track by Alice Cooper is titled 'Steven' but I changed the spelling as otherwise there may have been a terrible temptation to address him as 'Steve' and I don't even want to think about what might happen then.

Stephen original charcoal drawing

The first impression I got of Stephen was of something squatting with his hand against a wall or a door, as if to keep something else out. I drew more hands and arms thinking I was looking for the right posture when I realised they all belonged to the same thing. I still couldn't see how it all came together though. I tried adding a spider body but that wasn't right so for the next year or so I spent a lot of time experimenting with different arrangements in the hopes it would become clear.

Stephen never really went away and I kept returning to my sketches, gradually pairing up arms and getting a sense of how he moved. A good couple of years after I'd first started work on him, I had what has to be the most disturbing nightmare I've ever had.

He was in the house and started coming out of one of the cupboards, arms first. His limbs unfolded and extended which is when I first knew he had that extra joint in each one. I ran away but something made me go back, I think I wanted to make him leave but each time I found his hidey hole I would suddenly find myself standing outside the house in the dark. This happened again and again in different rooms and it became apparent that he was somehow in control, was making me lose time and keeping me away.

This was the beginning of my relationship with Stephen - the longer I have spent with him the more I have come to understand not only what he is, but who. I have now created a file telling Stephens story though various artefacts created by me and some of his friends.

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