Art Bomb

An explosion of creativity

I went up to Doncaster, for the premier of a film I made (“Writing the World Backwards”) and an exhibition. I was invited to be a discussant in the forum. Mike Stubbs, the curator, gave me a microphone and said: “Speak”. I made something up. Actually, it wasn’t made up. I spoke about my experiences and my values. Boom…

I found it strangely liberating to be able to express myself, off the cuff. Narcissism? Nonsense? Possibly both of these. In any case, it was very enjoyable and stimulating. People seemed to find what I said useful.

The ArtBomb festival was exciting and inspiring. I met some really interesting people, and saw some brilliant art.

“What next? Over the next five years, what are you going to do?” asked Kevin Parkinson, CEO of First Steps Eating Disorders. Yes, I do have a five year plan. A ten year plan, even. But to say it out loud might twist fate, so it couldn’t happen. Can’t take the risk… But the future is not about fate, or luck. It takes visionary dreams and very hard work! I currently have both (dreams, and the capacity to work hard!)…so who knows… (Watch this space!)



Yesterday was the TED talk and it was even more exciting and empowering than I had hoped it might be. Lights, camera, action!

I was put at the very end of the show, as the ‘grand finale’, so it could ‘go out with a bang’, said the organisers. Wow. I was very excited about this, despite the immense pressure. I had never given a talk on a big stage, in a theatre, with 5 cameras, lots of lighting, etc. There was a massive organising and technical team behind the whole event. I had a dressing room, make-up artist, even.

I was kind of goggle-eyed at all this. Everyone (speech coach, fellow speakers, etc.) kept telling me: ‘You will be brilliant, Lorna. You can do this. This is your story. Look at you — you are beautiful.’

I don’t even think they were making this up. I felt composed, confident and focused.

Time flew by.

A runner came to get me from the dressing room. I was taken behind the stage, where about 6 people were lurking, with microphones and headsets, speaking to each other, very importantly. I was ‘miked up’ – a microphone was curled around both my ears (ruining my hair????) and fastened onto my belt. The guy (? Which guy? There were many of them…) asked me if I was OK, and counted me down.

OK, let’s go, he said, and passed me the clicker for my slides. He told me which direction I needed to point the clicker, and gently led me towards my entrance.

Onto the stage I went.

I am not sure what happened next. I said most of the things I had planned to say. I was fortunate enough to have vivid, colourful slides, which told my story for me. I have been practising this talk for about 6 months now, gibbering away to myself in all sorts of ontic landscapes (down the street, in the bath, for example).

During my talk -- jockey

In honesty, as soon as I was on the stage, I swelled with pride and exactitude. I saw my dear friends Zoe and Sarah in the audience. I was so happy to see them. The audience wasn’t that big (only 100 people). The theatre wasn’t that big. At this point I was not thinking about the millions of people who are potentially going to see the video on the TED TALK YouTube channel.

I focused on what I needed to say. I was a bit worried that it wasn’t very funny, it was very serious. Anyway, I think I managed to make the audience laugh once? Phew.

The audience seemed, somehow, enthralled, by my story.

Then I roused everyone with a creative experiment. Everyone started clapping, doing Mexican waves, and dancing. Exactly as I had hoped.

Then it was over. My piece finished earlier than I had expected. It went so quickly. I hope I wasn’t speaking too fast. I am sure I forgot some things. Anyway, did my last slide: ‘with curiosity, compassion and creativity, you will access your own revival’, and still had about 3 or 4 minutes left. They were timing down from 18 minutes – we had a timer we could see on a screen. My piece came to a total of about 14 minutes, I think. Anyway, better for the YouTube video if it is not too long. More people will watch.

I walked off the stage to the sound of a clapping torrent – cheers and praise. I felt happy and fulfilled. I did it. So many people came up to me, beaming, and gave me a hug.

TEDx Coventry DC (Livy Dukes)

‘You were brilliant, as I knew you would be.’

‘Thank you so much, Lorna. I resonated with your powerful story. It is amazing that you have recovered and done so well. Thank you for sharing this with us.’

‘Lorna, you are so beautiful and so powerful. Look what you just did!’

‘I am going to use your suggestions in my work, with school kids. Thank you so much, this is really helpful for me and for my work.’

And more…

I was elated. Somehow, I had managed to pull it off.

This will be going on the TEDx Talk YouTube channel in about 2 months’ time (after editing), potentially reaching millions. Boom.

One of the best things about the TED Talk experience was the sense of comradery, rather than competition, between all the speakers and the organising team. At no point did I feel as though I was competing with anyone, or fighting for my place. I was accepted, valued, cherished, supported, nurtured, celebrated. I was helped to be the best that I possibly can be.

This was a privilege, an honour. It was extraordinary, wonderful to be allowed, and able, to be ‘me’. To know that I am sufficient, I am, in their words ‘brilliant’, just by being true to my self.

After the event finished, I quickly saw my dear friends who had come to watch. Zoe is my oldest friend – she knows more of me than I do, since we were friends at school (I don’t remember this part of my life). There was a long hiatus, because I was so unwell and ‘put away’. Then, I found Zoe again, by chance, years later. We were still friends, as if there had been no cessation.

Zoe came to watch me last night. She said it was hard to hear my story, since she witnessed so much of it, whilst it was happening. But she said it was amazing to see me up there ‘in the limelight’, at last.

I am hoping that the amazing experience of TEDxCoventry, and the impact of my talk, will support me to fulfil my vision, which is to use the arts and creativity to transform and open care for people who have eating disorders. I am developing a considered proposal to become a research fellow, building a creative, evidence-based practice in healthcare, backed up by the arts, science and philosophy (“The Butterfly Effect: Art, Creativity and Eating Disorders”).

In the meantime, I want to continue the creative experiment that I initiated during my talk @TEDxCoventry. We are all artists, can all benefit from creativity. Let’s keep this going, #becreative and #revive ourselves and our lives. Let there be a legacy from @TEDxCoventry.

See the picture I showed in my talk, and be inspired to #becreative #revive.


Try your own creative experiment. Share amongst your friends. Let’s see what we can do. With curiosity, compassion and creativity, we will access our own revivals.

Let me know how you get on, by sending a message (see ‘contact’ on the left hand side of this webpage), or on Twitter @sensinglorna.


I’ve seen fellow patients die of eating disorders. This needs tackling – fast

Link to article:

I’ve seen fellow patients die of eating disorders. This needs tackling – fast

Yesterday (8th January, 2020) I had another article published in The Guardian. This responds to the recent publication of statistics, measuring the number of people who have been hospitalised for eating disorders. This number has risen sharply, recently. In the media, people are shocked at the apparent ‘epidemic’, more and more people falling ill, with an eating disorder. In the article, I talk about my own lived experience of having a complex, co-morbid (yes, very morbid. I mean combined with other disorders) eating disorder. I talk about my illness, the treatment I received (the good, the bad and the ugly), and my eventual, astonishing recovery. I hope to open stark truths about what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in eating disorder clinics, where so many people die. I also hope to demonstrate that, with the right care, it is always possible to recover, and lead a wonderful life. My ‘lightbulb moment’ came at my very last admission, at Cotswold House EDU in Oxford (Oxford Health NHSFT), where I learned how to help myself, how to live well.

I know what it is like to be ill, I know what is needed to get well. Now, I am determined to help open access to better treatment, for all those who suffer with eating disorders.

We need to use stories like mine to convince politicians to give eating disorders treatment providers more funding, so they can provide good care, and to prevent more people from dying.

I want to connect stories of recovery and present these to NHSE, showing what works (where, how, why), what doesn’t work (where, how, why). The aim is to expand a network of recovery stories, open treatment possibilities, enable more people to get the help they need. This requires recruitment, education, expansion, inter-connectivity, and (of course) finance. This is not just for inpatient centres; we need to connect, apply and integrate services in the community (outside the ‘system’). We need to build a whole new model of care.

This can be done. It exists in the Oxford New Care Model, at Cotswold House (in and beyond Oxford, Marlborough, Buckinghamshire). We need to persuade NHSE to give funding to this model, so it can exist to help patients (as it did for me), and be expanded.

Meanwhile, there are other models, other treatment providers. Each person (patient, service user — always a person, not just an illness) is different, and may respond differently to treatment. But simply accessing treatment is hard enough. We need to work on enabling access to treatment, for it not to depend on weight/BMI — for a start.

Many thoughts, ideas, and things to do. Please read my article. If you are interested in helping me build a network of recovery stories, or you have ideas about the things that need to change, please send me a message (see ‘Contact’ on the left of this page).




Time to Change Bucks

I have just begun working for Bucks Mind, as the Time to Change Bucks Hub Coordinator. This is a great job because it involves campaigning for a better understanding of mental health in the public sphere. It’s a social movement, to end stigma and discrimination and promote visibility and audibility of mental health issues.

I’m trying to more ‘Champions’ (or people who have lived experience of mental health), who want to change how people think and act about mental health. Being a Champion is fun, flexible and empowering, you get to meet like-minded people and run your own events. There is a special ‘Champions Fund’, to pay for activities and events that you and your fellow Champions organise. I help and support you to do this. You can do as much or as little as you like or have time for. Suggestions for events: BBQ, reading group, art workshop, afternoon tea, coffee morning, craft group, write-a-thon, sports, walking group, cycling get-together, cooking, picnic, and the list goes on… These events are open to people with mental health issues, and also people who don’t. We want to invite the public to our events, so we can tell our stories, show them what mental health is, and change stigma and discrimination.

I am here to support you in your efforts to promote a new understanding about mental health and change public opinion, for the better. If you want to share your recovery story, or if you don’t, you will be equally supported in your efforts to join and advance our mutual campaign. Your lived experience, in all cases, is crucial and important. We need you. The world needs you.

For more information about becoming a Champion, or to have a chat, you can email me any time at, in the first instance.

Hoping to hear from you.

A4 poster Sunshine High Five.jpg



Indy headline re LIFE



This was the headline of my recent article in The Independent, which was purposefully published during Eating Disorders Awareness Week. I wrote it to demonstrate that, even when all odds are against you, it is still possible to recover from an eating disorder.

The whole article can be accessed here: 

The story of my eating disorder in the Indy article is just a pinprick of a book I am writing, about recovering from an eating disorder (“The Butterfly Emerges”). This book develops into a raw, shocking, but compassionate and empathic portrayal of suffering, whilst ‘living’ (or not) with an eating disorder. The butterfly becomes my symbol of recovery; embodying the butterfly, I can fly away from disorder.  I describe what has helped me to recover, and — by also including the clinical outlook of the medical team who helped me so much during my last admission — I open two perspectives: that of the clinician who is treating the disorder, as well as my own lived experience of being a patient in recovery.

The book becomes an innovative, scientific study that examines treatment from a clinical perspective, and using my nuanced, artistic expression—with poetry, prose and art, which narrate, apply and question the clinical approach. I am the ‘voice’ of someone who suffers from an eating disorder, which I narrate in my poems. I talk about the suffering, the transitioning, and the progress of not just surviving after mental illness, but also thriving in recovery — as the caterpillar transitions into a butterfly.

My Indy article was the culmination of a number of media appearances during Eating Disorders Awareness Week. I was interviewed by the BBC and appeared on BBC1 ‘Inside Out’. There is a clip of my piece on the programme:

I’m also in the Oxford Mail, here:

A radio interview is forthcoming. Meanwhile, I am making progress with “The Butterfly Emerges”, and a second book — a longer study, my memoir: “Being (Sedated)” (working title).

I am now working as the Buckinghamshire/Oxfordshire Representative of the Arts Health Early Career Research Network. I’m also on the Steering Group of the MARCH Network (an organisation that works on building social, cultural and community assets, enhancing public mental health and wellbeing, preventing mental illness, and supporting those living with mental health conditions; building resilient communities at the heart of mental health.

Meanwhile, I continue to work as a tutor and lecturer in the fields of art theory, art history, art practice, art criticism, philosophy, media studies and creative writing.

Lorna the Marxist

I found a paper I gave at a Neo-Marxist conference (“A World To Win”, London) in 2007. At the time I had just moved to Cambridge, where I was using Francophone political philosophy to reflect and refract my sheer dissatisfaction with The Order of Things (à la Foucault). I was called to discuss Hegelian dialectics, as the basis of Marxism, at the conference. What I wrote is heavily theoretical, but it remains interesting because of my passion in the big ideas I portray and question. Ever the creative utopian, my calling is with art. In some ways I remain in this position now, in my new context and career with Art Psychotherapy. If you can bear the abstruse verbiage, do read. Glimmers of light emerge, particularly at the end.


Contesting dialectics as the key to changing the world


You can form a beautiful picture in your head with Hegel’s dialectic, with its sense of meaning in movement, and engaging with the method or process in trying to understand the nature of reality.  This concept of sublation, or a sense of becoming that preserves and gives meaning, is powerful and important.  Indeed, the value in Hegel lies in where and how his process of negation mobilises the quest to gain understanding of reality, and the contents of the present.  From this Hegel’s ‘Logic’ brings forward what he calls “The Doctrine of Essence”, as the conclusion and summit of his understanding of the now, and our knowledge of it. This follows the movementfuelled by negation, along the path towards understanding the ‘now’, as consciousness curls around its contents and the contradiction in the ‘now’ is absorbed and synthesised, as a totality that moves towards self-consciousness. Hegel concludes that “When this movement is pictured as the path of knowing…this path is the movement of being itself.”

Now this, as a subjective, abstract idea in your head (if you can follow it) is all very profound, a deeply philosophical/existential experience which concerns thinking, one’s place within one’s thoughts, and the world itself.

It’s quite easy to get sucked in to Hegel, and soon be floating around in your head, delirious on dialectics…



But we are here not just to contemplate and entangle ourselves somewhat narcissistically with abstract, enjoyable thought games, but to source and install the key to changing the world. As Marx said, “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it”. And if you look at how the dialectic system, even when brought down to earth and grounded by Marx, brings on a binary, restrictive logic that is totalized, fixed and synthetic (or artificial), and the effects of this on society and the world, you can perhaps see how such a logic cannot provide the fuel or economy to provide for a new and different present which can solve the current ‘eco-crisis’, or provide for ‘a sustainable social future’

The dialectic system forms an equation to value and absorb identity in terms of contradictions.  In Hegel an identity is considered and defined in relation to what something is not.  This places two things in an equation of two polar opposites, differentiated and segregated as dichotomous contradictions.

This forms a binary opposition where two terms are used to judge reality, like man/woman, black/white, young/old, reason/passion, subject/object, good/bad, truth/error, pass/fail; which sets up a hierarchy between these two parts.  Whatever doesn’t fit so neatly into one of these two categories gets misrepresented or allocated into the same schema, according to the priorities or best wishes of some discursive or institutional practice.  This dictates the way that we live.

Such ‘logocentrism’, or the formation of opposition in contradictory or different terms,brings on a hierarchical dichotomy.  This is argued by Derrida in his rather strenuous methodology of ‘deconstruction’, which sought to undo and deconstruct the false dichotomies, or ‘oppositions’, inherent in dialectic thinking (be it Hegelian, Marxist or Platonic).  Derrida says that this notion of “logocentrism” forms the tendency to think about fundamental philosophical concepts, like truth, reality, and being, in terms of ideas such as identity, presence, and essence; whilst limiting or ignoring the equally valid, opposite notions of otherness, absence, and difference. Because of this tendency, Derrida said that Hegel’s dialectic quest for “totality” has a necessary link to the political “totalitarianism” that A World to Win is here opposing.  This is essentially why a dialectic theory of knowledge cannot be used as a key to change the world.


Let’s go back to Hegel, who argued that all differences can be contained and synthesised by his system, in fact nothing was outside his system – it forms all that there is, and all that there is not, tightly enclosed into a totality.

From his Logic: “In pressing forward to its true existence, consciousness will arrive at a point at which it gets rid of its semblance of being burdoned with something alien, with what is only for it, and some sort of ‘other’, at a point where appearance becomes identical with essence, so that its exposition will coincide at just this point with the authentic Science of spirit.  And finally, when consciousness itself grasps this its own essence, it will signify the nature of absolute knowledge itself.”

So we have this lovely picture in our minds of our thoughts mediating our experience of the world, synthesising (or obliterating) any nasty ‘alien’that won’t fit in, any ‘other’that doesn’t tick the right boxes and would ‘burdon’ the absolute, and we get to self-consciousness of an abstract subjective, pure, sweet, totality.


But, as Marx said, any assumed unity of this state of mind is no more than that – a (delirious) state of mind, with some kind of abstract and mystified spirit hovering above an actuality, grounded by Marx in history, that is antagonistic, war-mongering and deeply divided by the dichotomous mode of thought that Hegel’s dialectic assumes, or projects onto existence.  As Derrida argues, this becomes totalitarian politics, where the ‘alien other’becomes segregated, categorized and at times racially abused.

The link from Hegel’s enclosed system of dialectic contradiction is that the logic of opposition fixes a binary relation between categorized contents that brings on a totalitarian, regressive dynamic that determines and even dictates the way that we try to exist.  This brings on the international picture of political unrest, identity-politics and terrorism that is shown by our contemporary climate, via the divisive logic of dialectical contradiction, and metaphysical division.


Now all this is very strong stuff and extremely complex.  I do not mean to take any of it lightly, and I prepare to get roasted by the material dialecticians beside me.  But I say this because I fervently support the need for change, but also that it is the dialectic method that we need to change

Here I’m going to introduce Theodor Adorno – a materialist dialectician whose subtle, complex and incredibly powerful argument in his ‘Negative Dialectics’ provides a dynamic that accounts for what won’t fit into Hegel’s system, what gets subordinated and segregated and demoralised by that system, what can disintegrate the totalizing teleological tautology of both Marx and Hegel’s dialectic logic.

Adorno Negative Dialectics: “…whatever happens to come into the dialectical mill will be reduced to the merely logical form of contradiction, and… the full diversity of the noncontradictory, of that which is simply differentiated, will be ignored. What we differentiate will appear divergent, dissonant, negative for just as long as the structure of our consciousness obliges it to strive for unity: as long as its demand for totality will be its measure for whatever is not identical with it.  This is what dialectics holds up to our consciousness as a contradiction.”

Adorno argues that the truth of reality, or the ‘now’, remains from those contradictions themselves, rather than in their reconciliation, as residue or excess that what will not fit into Hegel’s neatly closed, triadic system.  Whereas Hegel works backwards from his totalized synthesis, deducing his process from that, Adorno takes the core of meaning from the entry point of contradictions, and the excess – or their surface – which simply cannot fit into the binary relation set by Hegel’s dialectic.  He analyses how dialectic subjectivity constructs barricades around those contradictions synthesised by negation, which leave outs and discriminates against the full content of the ‘now’.   He describes how the negation fabricates a binary from the contradictions, which reduces everything to be categorised as such, within a totalising system that cannot account for the full diversity of what is “noncontradictory”, what won’t quite fit in.

Adorno argues that the essence of the ‘now’ is here – as the ‘alien other’or “indissoluble something”, the excess or precipitant on the surface of those contradictions, which unfold within and are constructed by, but neither contained nor resolved inside, Hegel’s dialectic process of negation. This comes to be labeled as ‘nonidentity’, segmented and segregated accordingly.  Adorno takes the point in a similar way to Derrida, and also from Saussure’s structuralist argument, where identity is valued by what it isn’t.  Here something is identified dialectically – in terms of its opposite.  In reality this identification via a dialectic logic becomes labeled, judged and demoted under rule of law.  Adorno takes this argument, and says that from this dialectic thinking requires the kind of racism that destroys the world – using the example of genocide at Aushwitz.  What did not fit into the Herrenvolk, the blue blood of the Nazi ideal race, or the ‘other’ or ‘nonidentity, the Jew, the homosexual, was obliterated.  This is a dialectic logic.

Now it has been the central problem of modern philosophy since Hegel, (or, some say, since Platonic duality even) to overturn this way of thinking – to find the way out of the dialectic synthetic, dichotomous, dangerous totalizing mind-frame, and form a different way of thinking and being in the world that does not judge reality into polar opposites, calling for new system and economy based on a multiplicity or plurality, the difference that does not fit inside the dialectic system, which can open or unfold its artificially synthetic totality.

One can see this in particular from Nietzsche, and the entire poststructuralist movement – Deleuze, Guattari, Foucault, Derrida, Heidegger, Lyotard.

Why I am touched by Adorno’s heavily complex nihilistic materialism is because although his works are difficult to read, sometimes they gleam with hope, when he argues that the truth of reality is in the ‘alien other’, the remainder, the precipitant, the non-identity, the ‘indissoluble something’, that evades the system, rather than in the concept that totalizes it.  He says this ‘remainder’ can deconstruct or disintegrate the Hegelian dialectic.  There is hope for us misfits yet.



From this I think that the real revolution required to change the world is to break from the way that we are socially engineered and manipulated to see and judge reality in terms of punitive contradictions, and form and practice and lead from an entirely new way of thinking. How liberating it would be if two things could simply co-exist, rather than being necessarily opposed.  This is a question not just for debating abstract thoughts, but to source and install the key that can change the world.  We need a practical method of how to make this happen – via an interactive interface that can span and spread, like a rhizome, across the world.

Firstly who are we reaching out to?  Adorno’s Negative Dialectics is powerful and subtle because he engages with what won’t fit into the tight systematic enclosure of dialectics – what isn’t quite only either something and its opposite, segregated as contradictory ‘non-identity’.  Adorno’s argument is that although the dialectic cannot contain all that there is in the momentous flux and range of reality, and it is those on the surface line, those who don’t fit, those that get labelled and tarnished as ‘non-identity’, as ‘alien’ or ‘other’ – they can and will disintegrate the system. This is Adorno’s Logic of Disintegration. This dynamic has yet to be understood, nor engaged with.  As Adorno says, “The power of that negativity holds real sway to this day.  What would be different has not begun as yet.

This is our task. What won’t fit in can change what pushed them out.  I think this dynamic or principle might be what AWTW wishes to engage with to source the key to changing the world, although I am arguing that this requires and necessitates by evading and breaking from the dialectic system.  How to take this to society and engage with people, in the name of ‘composting capitalism – from eco-crisis to a sustainable social future’ requires a revolution (of a different kind) – to change the way that we have been socially engineered to think.  To get out of Platonic metaphysics, Cartesian duality, Hegelian contradictions, Kantian categories, fascist or totalitarian politics – so that the world provides a natural, open interface where two things, and all things, juxtaposed can simply co-exist and live together, rather than being necessarily in opposition.



To answer the how brings us to a question of artistry, connection, diplomacy, education, inspiration – that can build a network which can stretch a network around the world to grow a new way of being.

At this point I’m fuelled by Nietzsche, whose aestheticism, amidst his stirring, psychotic wit, provides an understanding about how art can aid one’s being-in-the-world. As he writes in The Birth of Tragedy: “Art saves him.  And through art life saves him, for itself.”


Why art is so powerful is because the sublime experience, and the creation of artworks, can provide a way to break out of the contradictions by which we are socially engineered to judge reality. Here I’m influenced by Deleuze’s LogicofSensation, Foucault’s The Order of Things, and Thought From Outside, Guattari’s Chaosmosis– but most of all my experiences with artworks, artists, and the world itself.

Over the summer I went across Europe on ‘The Grand Tour’, to follow the art fermenting through monumental shows of contemporary art that opened in succession around the Continent.  The art I saw, and the world I saw, throughout this all seemed to be reacting to the contradictions, dichotomies and the logic of opposition that determine, segregate and dictate the way that we exist.  This concerned the loss of identity (and censure of what is considered as ‘non-identity’) in a globalized, institutionalized world, along with the effects this has had on the world – its eco-crisis, humanity’s crisis.  As the curator at the Venice Biennale, Robert Storr, said

Sadly this is a period when ideological, cultural and religious antagonisms — rather than ‘nature’ — drive man to kill his fellow man, to imprison and torture him.  These horrors are visible in the glass art holds up to the world, though reality’s ugliness may be transformed into a terrible beauty or crystallized into a prism through which we can examine the human flaws that produce it.

Now you and I may disagree that the problems in the world have much to do with dialectic or Platonic logic, but we might find powerful neutral territory in the ways that art can help build a sustainable social future.  For in creating and sensing works of art we can make a safe space where we can play and discover the world.  I believe that in here we can move the contradictions that compose and have decomposed the world to a paradox — where both can exist together, not in opposition but from the beauty, interaction texture of our differences.


We can begin in this space, possibly coexist with others, and recreate the world.  This is the logic of those sensations that we can receive when one engages with art, and in the act of creation.

We need a way to activate and ensure the coexistence and insight that can be sensed and discovered from works of art.  One can express and move this need by creating, expressing and sharing one’s beliefs and hopes, without having to blow oneself up or segregate into opposition, in order to portray or effect the world.

Now we need to plot sensuous pointers that can connect and map our rights in a new, holistic, living world; and most of all the humility and courage to begin again, from the most basic, simplistic connection that can be sensed from artworks, which disintegrates the contradictions and division that has deconstructed the world.  To move from this aesthetic experience to political or sociological, practical logistics requires an expansive inter-connection, the identification of the needs and rights that count, and the demonstration of just how to unfold a world that works from these.


©Lorna Collins, September 2007


A Lifeline: Art therapy

As an artist, arts educator, but most of all, as a survivor, I feel passionate about the ways that art can offer healing and relief in times of difficulty and stress. My own experience with activating this power leads me to a desire and need to show how other people might find it also, particularly those who struggle with illness and disability. I am dedicated and committed to this vocation. It culminates my lifelong experience of making art and helping people make art, with continuous emphasis on the therapeutic benefits of the creative process.

I have a PhD in Art Theory from Cambridge University, where I examined the psychoanalysis of the art object, and an MA in Fine Art (Distinction). These achievements demonstrate my strength and resilience under pressure. All my writing, teaching and art practice has utilised art as a restorative method of thinking, feeling and healing. I want to study for an MA in Arts Psychotherapy because this will enable me to practice as a clinician, and as an artist, to help people. This is a very simple but crucial ambition and need: having spent so much time in my own recovery, I want to make a difference in other peoples’ recoveries. I want to spread empathy and make connections, so that people who are suffering or experiencing problems might feel connected with someone who can understand and help them to relieve their own pain.

I want to use art to facilitate change in the world, which means to show people how they can initiate their very own changes (in themselves). The tool and agency is always art. I need to qualify as an art therapist so that I can make this happen.

So I have a 4/5-year plan: right now I am applying to all the universities which offer the MA in Art Therapy. I am currently finding work and placements to practice this in the community, and gain further clinical experience (in mental health and schools). I hope to start the MA in September 2018, and then qualify as a practitioner 2 years later. So I’d hope to start working in this new career in 4 years time. I may need to do a diploma before the MA. Whatever it takes.

This is a calling. My gut-feeling guides me. I just hope I can convince a university to accept me, so I can at last kick on, learn, grow and qualify, then practice.


Organic psychotic disorder (undefined)

Mixed media on torn watercolour paper, 14 x 21cm, 2000-2017:Lorna Collins Organic psychotic disorder (undefined) 2

 This wonky, textured painting expresses my very own sense of being diagnosed (or not) a ‘psycho’. Following a brain injury in 2000, I developed a series of psychiatric illnesses, which led to long periods of incarceration in several different mental asylums. My so-called ‘illness’, which destroyed me, prompted chaotic moments of sheer, violent darkness. But these moments also burst into periods of dazzling light, when I found insight, growth and acceptance. My small painting shows a thick, black whole that has subsumed my edges, and its eruption into vision and colour. Such a transition from dark to light is made possible, I realise, through the healing powers that making art has, to help us make sense of ourselves, and the world. Making this work provides me with redemption and recognition from the darkness in the shooting rays of light, which open my psycho being into a universe of new possibilities.

Lorna Collins Organic psychotic disorder (undefined)1


Turning a full circle

I decided to leave an implosive, becoming-dismal career in academia and return to my former passion with the horses. This decision was not taken lightly, since I had spent over 10 years away from the horses due to extraordinary, unrepeatable circumstances.

But here I am. Happy, at home, at last. In love with galloping across the countryside, with my horse Patch’s white whiskers and his soft, delightfully hairy ears:


I train (always), compete (increasingly often) and win (sometimes). This fulfils an old destiny, which I thought had been lost and destroyed (utterly) forever. How lucky I am. How happy I am. Here, right here, with the horses in the country.

I’m setting up a new career on this situation: I teach riders and horses of all abilities and ages. I also tutor students for exam tips, essays-techniques and interview practice. Please contact me if you need my help. My email is:



Writing in verse is another outlet for my main project of Making Sense: Art Practice and Transformative Therapeutics. Words rush and gush out, from somewhere indeterminate inside me. I allow these words to lilt in their intimate rhythm with the page. The resultant patch of poetry (if I can call it that) then expresses something true about the moment in time I currently (try to) inhabit. My aim is to develop my writing skills and expand my publications in this form of writing. There are several possibilities for seeing my poems in print in the pipeline; I hope to establish a readership and expand my writing style. In the meantime, I continue to open out the sometimes dazzling, other times murky and threatening sense of truth that reveals itself when I write poems. Here are a couple, written a few years ago. My most recent poems are being considered for publication so I can’t put them on this webpage at present. Watch this space!



And I quote



Writing in verse is another outlet for my main project of Making Sense: Art Practice and Transformative Therapeutics. Words rush and gush out, from somewhere indeterminate inside me. I allow these words to lilt in their intimate rhythm with the page. The resultant patch of poetry (if I can call it that) then expresses something true about the moment in time I currently (try to) inhabit. My aim is to develop my writing skills and expand my publications in this form of writing. There are several possibilities for seeing my poems in print in the pipeline; I hope to establish a readership and expand my writing style. In the meantime, I continue to open out the sometimes dazzling, other times murky and threatening sense of truth that reveals itself when I write poems. Here are a couple, written a few years ago. My most recent poems are being considered for publication so I can’t put them on this webpage at present. Watch this space!



And I quote


What We Are Looking For… (a brainwave)

I want to teach secondary art and design. I am dedicated to this new career path. It culminates my considerable experiences as an artist and arts educator. Academia is a fruitful place to work, but it has failed to satisfy my career, nor my vocation, which lies in secondary education.

I am certain of this because I want to share the knowledge and skills in art and design, art theory, and media studies, which I have accumulated over the past few years, to young people. My aim as a teacher is to inspire my students and meet the needs for all learners, despite any disadvantages or barriers posed to them by society. I want to show students how they can reach their full potential, and understand what they never thought they could.

The highlights of my teaching experiences have been guiding 16-18 year olds at Cambridge Regional College towards their Art Foundation degree. Packed classes with a broad range of students with very diverse needs meant some crucially experimental ideas about art making commenced in this space. My teaching at Anglia Ruskin University was catered for first year undergraduates (mostly aged 18), as well as older students. I taught media studies and art theory. This experience confirmed my aptitude as a teacher: earning respect and building collaborative opportunities for my students, and founding novel techniques for learning and assessment.

I have a PG Cert. in Learning and Teaching, which contributes towards my understanding in the nature of teaching and educational issues. I have made a detailed study of different methods of learning and assessment, whilst developing inclusive and effective learning resources. These are applicable to KS3 and 4 Art and Design, the underlying aim being for students to produce skilled and creative artworks, and be able to evaluate art’s history, culture and criticism. These requisites become openings for intensely imaginative and stimulating classes, when I am teaching.

My subject knowledge in art and design is based from my experiences as an artist (in painting, film, installation and performance, with multiple international exhibitions), writer (with a monograph published in 2014 by Bloomsbury, entitled: ‘Making Sense: Art Practice and Transformative Therapeutics’), art critic and lecturer in this subject.

I have worked with children and young people throughout my academic career. One trip to Cambodia, where I taught orphans in a Buddhist temple in the remote countryside, confirmed my desire to show youths how to do things, and how to think about things, which they never thought they could. In this case, I was teaching the Cambodian children art. They had never seen paint before. But soon, with my guidance, they were drawing and painting their beautiful landscape, and their feelings. They could then sell their works to passing tourists. The point of this exercise was to teach the students new skills, new ways to express themselves, and build up a source of income (crucial, in their destitute lives). I could not solve the horrific political, social and economic problems in Cambodia. But I could show the children new ways of looking at their country; opening new avenues.

This is an example of my motivation and commitment to teaching, and the reason why I teach. My intellectual qualities have led me towards a PhD in Art Theory from Cambridge University, an MA in Fine Art, doing my BA in a year. But these achievements aren’t enough, and yet they are too much. I always want to return to the classroom, which first inspired me, when I was at school.


There’s the thing. The stuff at the end, about being inspired when I was at school, is bollocks. School was awful and I can’t remember it anyway. But the rest is true. Suddenly, it dawned upon me that I could achieve my life aims somewhere else, not just in a university. I want to help people understand things that they never thought they could. This is my life’s purpose. So far I have been committed to failure, in academia. Rejection after rejection. Each one damages a little bit of my soul. The damage adds up; I feel broken.

But perhaps life does not have to be so hard. Perhaps I can’t achieve a professorship at Oxbridge, or a hip art school, or somewhere dynamic and exciting. Perhaps I am not able to do this. What I have come to realise is that, in any case, perhaps I do not need to do this. Perhaps I can be far more fulfilled with less kudos.

In fact, what I want to do in life is far smaller than my utopian aims. So much for ‘I must change the world’, or ‘I must ultimately become a Professor’, or even, trying to widen my ambitions to make them easier to achieve, ‘I must be a lecturer in art theory, art history, art practice, media studies, or anything near, on any course at any university in the world’. None of these are in fact achievable, so it seems.

Maybe for a reason. I’m not going to get all trick-cyclist about this. There’s no such thing as fate. Nothing except very very hard work makes things happen. But suddenly, with a new idea (once again, as it often happens, brought forward by my mother, who is Always Right), I am discovering something that I can achieve, which would also meet my aims in life.

I can help people understand things they never thought they could by teaching at a school. This will require yet another qualification, but it would guarantee a career and, following the PGCE, an immediate job. I could teach art and design. I could enthuse my students with inventive and imaginative methods of making and thinking about art.

My research? My film? My books? I could feasibly still do all of this. It wouldn’t be easy, but it’s never been easy. I’ve always felt like a lonely wanderer in academia. It’s so hard to get a job, any job, and even harder to get the right job. Research is supposedly, but hardly, supported. Publishing books are supposed to increase your reputation; but they haven’t done, in my case. It’s extremely hard work, with lots of stress, with no cream cakes. And I don’t like cream cakes anyway.

The rewards I seek are the following: I wish to make a connection with my students, build trust, respect and empathy. I would do this by collaborating with them as people, as individuals, with different – but equal – needs, hopes and interests. I want to inspire and encourage students to dream, and work towards achieving the dreams (in small, incremental stages). I want students to look forward to my classes. I need to do all this through making and thinking about art.

In fact, I have come to realise (just now), that these rewards probably can’t be obtained at a university. Work needs to be done earlier. Maybe becoming a secondary school teacher is a good idea, then. If I can make it happen.

Hence my meeting with the An Important Person at the Faculty of Education, Cambridge University. He was realistic about my chances, and suggested I get a minimum wage job, whilst I look for a teaching position anywhere in the world that might take me. ‘I wouldn’t teach’, he said, informing me about the abstruse levels of stress the job entails.

Yet I am determined to give this a go. I have found 3 opportunities for school-direct training or PGCE (‘Not worth it,’ he said, ‘don’t quote me.’) at various locations in Cambridge, London and (near the horses) in Amersham. Is this the start of a new adventure? I hope so. Hope is the most powerful, inexhaustible fuel there is. Still perilous, but infallible.

No Name. A nightmare.

11695962_10153028075294646_6883815808619485365_nShe was wearing the new burgundy t-shirt, which said ‘Spiritual Gangster’, scrawled over a fickle heart-shaped emblem, on the front. The back was empty. Her hair was greasy, scrawny straggles, flopping in thin wisps onto her shoulders, bent over a book. Cowering underneath the (fake) strains of taking examinations. Fake? Since these weren’t the real tests brought by Life. And yet they symbolised the hardest question of all: would she be good enough?

That was the stupid yet recurrent question lurking and regurgitating in her throat. She looked up. The old, crumpled, bitter woman walked over, with a piece of paper in her hand. She stopped a few feet away from No Name (sic. This girl had still not made a name for herself.), peering down at her.

The girl could not, would not wait. Her small, green-cum-yellow eyes prised themselves upon the teacher’s piece of paper, seeking her results. The woman breathed in harshly, about to utter. The girl saw the flash of her marks, breathed in terror, and bolted.

E, E, E, E, E, E, NA (worse than E. Eliminated, Dissolved, Failed, Not Even Worth Considering.).


She ran. From the cell, from the school, from the institution, from the arena, from the prison, from the tower, from the hospital, from the family, from her stupid, worthless self. Be clear: not just to get away from those lines on a piece of paper, from exam results. She was running away from all the nuts and bolts that prevented those impatient neurones from manufacturing A Method of mutating time: barring freedom.

Not known for athleticism, the girl embodied that emblematic t-shirt, vaulted over the fence (somewhat ungracefully), and lurched across the street. She knew where she was going.

Immediately, the old trout shouted at her and demanded that she stop, stay, and receive appropriate punishment. Suppression. No Name ran faster. Old Trout set off the alarm, and alerted the Authorities. By this time, No Name was out of sight. She had to escape before the police tracked her down and restrained her. Detained her. Sedated her. Murdered her.

No Name ran towards the hedgerow. She tried to puff and wheeze (since she was not used to running) quietly, unobtrusively. She ran through the fields. It was dark by now. On the right was a bridleway. A Polish horse and rider roamed past. The horse was mincing on long, black legs that jiggled around the stones on the ground. His rider held the reins high in the air and resembled an Oriental artist. He was dressed in auburn breeches, a pink flappy smock, and white leather gloves. The horse snorted, he could smell No Name. She was going in the right direction.

It was past midnight by now. No Name knew she was a runaway in danger: the police would not be far behind. It would not be hard for them to have found inside information on where she would go. Where she always went. But that did not stop her. No one had ever quite found her Hell, except she. Hell was some atrocious hidey-hole; yet inescapable. Inevitable.

An interlude: At the crossroads in the woodland, No Name discovered a fountain spurting spouts of pure unbroken ambrosia. It was the bottom of a rainbow. The liquid glowed like magma, flirtatiously. Green shoots popped out, blooming into pretty fuchsia petals. Around the ornament a number of dappled ponies danced. Riders were small and lithe; on perfect, lilting strides of bounding connemaras. But they disappeared. In the space, No Name stepped into the ambrosia, bent her knees and drank.

Immediately the magnanimous liquid warmed her spleen. The air erupted into shingles of the rainbow’s spectrum. A pinto Marwari horse with pointy ears that touched themselves trotted past her. Revived now, sheimages-1 followed. She must flee.

The Indian horse galloped away. No Name found her own narrow path by the hedgerow and proceeded with determination. In the distance she could hear the blaring noise of a police car. It seemed to get ever louder, ever closer, ever more threatening. She was near to her place, and yet so far.

No Name tripped in the mud and fell over. She slipped into a thick, rambling wad of rough crop, grown to rear pheasants. Tumbling down the field, the earth dissolved and enveloped her. Swallowed whole, she scraped her way through the mulch and dug herself ever deeper.

Eventually No Name had buried herself entirely, until her short, scrubby fingernails broke through a hole in the soil. She had reached the tunnel. Flopping onto the floor (again, ungracefully), she heaved a breath, which was hard, since there was little air down here. Crawling on her knees, she edged forward. Her body was hot, wet with sweat, and whet with the threat of those advancing imminently behind her.

Soon she reached the end of the tunnel. It opened out into a large spray of lavender. The smell was pacifying,images but intoxifying. She was close. Pushing through the pale blue flowers, No Name stood up. By now it was nearly morning. At the end of the garden was a plain house. She was in France, in Provence, near the village called Cotignac. This was her parents’ house. They came here once a month. But now it was empty.


No Name found the dungeon near the moat, and she jumped into it. With the last remaining surge. Around the corner was her place. The walls were red; a dark, dark red. Almost black. She had painted these old walls herself, with her blood. The space was a testimony to the foundation that beguiled all but No Name. Each time she escaped, blood burst here. It could end here.

No more exams. No more cells. No more school. No more institutions, or arenas. No prison, no tower. No hospital. No family. No more stupid, worthless self. With No Name. Here was The Method of mutating time: opening freedom.

There was a moment here, which was indescribable. Before the future took over the present (with time mutated); it was over. The blaring nee-naa of the police siren reached a harsh crescendo. A man burst in, with his truncheon (a shot of lorazopam) at the ready. No Name tried to resist; but cowered. There was nothing more she could do.

Old Trout appeared, grimacing with eerie disgust at the smell. We’ll take you away to the place where you always get better. Her words were reasonable, but No Name did not want to go back to that place, where she had No Name. Yet here was blood, just blood. Nowhere was free. Perhaps she would have to call herself: No Name Nowhere.

I took a breath, and opened my eyes. I was at the farm, with my dog still sleeping, curled up in the crook of my arm. Quite safe. With a name: Lorna Collins.

Perspectives built in India

There are 3 parts to this reflection on my squeezed escapade in India. Firstly I include a poem I wrote when I was sitting in the departure gate of the airport, waiting to fly back to England. I get a bit lost in words and sounds at times, so I’m not sure it’s easy to understand, unless you know the context of my inspiration. I dilate/dilute my poem by copying down here sections from my diary, which I wrote during the 2 days of the symposium. These 2 sections contain a simplistic narrative of an adventure I had, and then a more philosophical deliberation on my part in the symposium at the Goethe Institute. This symposium and the concurrent exhibition were called “Crisis and the Making and Unmaking of Sense: Art as Schizoanalysis”, organised by Khoj International Artists’ Association.

  1. Pure perceptions

The smog tugs

my throat in

smoky dregs

that won’t

relent and

parch my



amidst the

dirty, musty


I stumble,



The sounds




In dirt

a yurt (of sorts)


the furtive


I’m caught


a sort of


that toys with

grids that lead

instead to boys who

glue their eyes

to gushing buys

and see my white naivety

a state to shove believing with

above their toil.

A royal boil

begins to itch my throat


They sell me rotten apples


and drive me through the rubble.

In-credible, a fib,

unstable, a rib

bounces and renounces

my body’s defences

as I lurch across the track.

A fact backed when

shambles wend

around the bend

floundering my senses



But then I arrive.

Dust clears.

Rust bears

my weight.

I stare

into the

air and through

the golden




and feel

iotas grinning

and calmly

holding my inebriety.

Instead of lurching,



I nurture


softly dazzling,


and tickling

my senses.

Here the sun

maintains grains.

Those groans

from tomes of blown up dens

cannot subsume the oms

from green and grown refrains.

Liquid lubrication

amidst the new creation

defies the chronic,





This is our task.

We slip through,

ripping their cloak,

nipping through the boundaries,

staking out founded steeds

for a brand new reality.

Grand, astute, a fluke?

Not quite, more like

a great hike that breaks

the strokes of broken lives

and strives to set us free.

2. My adventure

Last night Lleah (who has dyed her hair pink) took me to somewhere in central Delhi. It was very intense and a crisis evolved. Before it did we had a highly stimulating set of sensoriums/sensoriae, which erupted from the trip to this crammed, chaotic market. We went on the subway first of all, which was a pretty intense experience in itself. Talk about crammed. So many dark, smelly men, wet and whet with sweat and pounding the inadequate space too close to me. One man placed his left ear on my lips. As my breath banged his warm skin, and our bodies touched, clammy and condensed, I immediately gasped, aghast at this ghastly unwanted intimacy, and retreated (as much as was (im)possible, given the restraints (im)posed by the lack of space). Soon it was our stop. The station was similarly crammed full of people. We went up the stairs. So was the street.

Undeterred, excited, I followed Lleah and we began to explore. Neither of us knew where we were going. We followed out noses. The odd pong barred the route – urine, mould, dirt. In fact, each olfactory stimulus enhanced the overall sensorium, since it made the journey more authentic.

We wandered randomly through the streets, undeterred by the aggressive rickshaws (‘autos’) and motorcycles beeping and cavorting their horns and accelerators, bombarding through the space.

The streets were lined with market stalls. Most were selling colourful material and fabric, bangles or fruit. I took lots of photos and videos, really enjoying this adventure.

After a while we decided to return home. We found a rickshaw (after one we’d rejected due to excessive charge) and climbed aboard. By now it was rush hour and the streets were crammed with beeping automobiles aggressively meandering around each other, noisily trying to overtake and ignoring any semblance of order posed by lines, lights, regulations, or policemen blowing vociferously into plastic whistles.

Then, before we knew it, a motorcycle cruised past at huge speed, and snatched Lleah’s purse, which she was holding on her lap. It flashed past and away, irretrievable. We urged the rickshaw driver to follow, and he went down the other side, the wrong side of the road, dodging rickshaws etc., trying to catch the villant. Violence. Shock. Fear. Lost. The motorbike went away and we could not follow. The purse was gone and we were unable to retain it. so we ordered the rickshaw driver to take us to the police.

At the police station Lleah formed a complaint. We had to go to another police station to do this, in the same—evidently dangerous—rickshaw that we’d lost the purse on before. I was scared and clasped my own bag so closely to my chest. The next police station seemed “helpful” in inverted commas, but Lleah’s purse (passport, all her money, credit cards and iPhone) was irretrievable and she had nothing. The police did nothing and were quite intimidating. They gave us each a glass of water and tried to insist that we drank it. Now pure water here is poisonous so that was a pretty shifty gesture.

I was melting into patheticism, if I’m honest, by this moment. I gave Lleah some money and asked the police to get me a taxi to return to KHOJ, where I was staying. At first they did not want to get me a taxi and said I should use a rickshaw, this same rickshaw which had brought on the situation. I refused, and eventually a taxi was called. I got in and we drove off.

Before long it was evident that this bedraggled taxi driver did not know where we were going. Soon we were lost, in the middle of nowhere (after travelling at speed up the motorway). The taxi driver jabbered away in one of the multitude of languages apparent in India. He did not speak English. He stopped the car, left me alone in it, and wandered off to speak to a fat, bearded man who was sitting in an armchair outside his house. The driver eventually came back and we were off again. He turned around. Kept stopping and turning around. I became increasingly scared, and did not know what to do. I had no one’s telephone number and my phone wouldn’t seem to work anyway.

I shouted pigeon English at the driver and he shouted his Indian nonsense back at me. No sense. The Crisis and Unmaking of Sense. Then, suddenly, I recognised the street and so it was fine. I stopped the taxi. Refused to pay the extortionate fee he proposed, I paid a lesser fare, and walked to KHOJ. I found, then, that the door was locked and I couldn’t get in. I had no key. Shit. It was late by this point and of course I was on my own. All I could do was bang on the door and shout loudly, hoping someone was there who could let me in.

Someone did. And then I ate cereal and milk. I forget about water being poisonous and drank it neat from the tap. Fuck. Oh well, I was fine. Phew. What an adventure!

3. A more philosophical debrief of the symposium, and my own intervention

. . . So it’s bumpy now, because I’m on my way back home in a taxi to Delhi airport. I wend my way. Yesterday (the second day of the symposium, the day after the above adventure) was terrific. I showed my film and made my intervention. I was so brutally honest about my experiences because they could be applied critically to the overall trajectory of the symposium, which was: schizoanalysis and the making/unmaking of sense. 

In basic terms the symposium and exhibition presented artists and thinkers who demonstrated different ways of perceiving and reacting to the world, in response to a crisis that is both social and psychological. This concerns psychosocial trauma, the effects of genocide, the disappearance of lives from history, and the false rewriting or superimposition of a history that is fundamentally hegemonic, selective, exclusive and hierarchical.

The point we made at KHOJ was to show how stating a different truth to the one superimposed and falsely fixed by history can de-legitimise the structures of power who control it. This is agency. We cannot reverse genocide. We cannot prevent trauma. But we can build a rhizome of utterings, rememberings, representations, which secure our different identities and, collected, can provide healing and retaliation.

The symposium tried to install this agency through a schizoanalytic framework, one which dismantles the fixed, teleological, catastrophic logic of systems of power. We founded a way to state and respond to the pits of hell and torturous atrocities installed and advocated by these mutually destructive—whether totalitarian or capitalist—forms of power. Making art, thinking through making, and sharing what is made, resists and decentres. It provides healing. A rhyzome of possibilities.

My own part to play in the symposium was highly insignificant. I felt like an ignorant, spoilt child – from the West, where, although we are hyper-consumed and dictatorially controlled by capitalism, we know nothing of the atrocities suffered in other parts of the world (represented at the symposium). However, I have experienced my own atrocities. My own genocide, which fortunately I was able to free myself from. I make art. This provides a process of retaliation from my demons, a process of sense-making, and a process of healing. What I do with art can be applied to other situations, since it is not just individual, or confined to me. It is social.

I showed my ”Touché” film (viewable on my website, under ‘Painting Film’. Then I explained how I’d made it, and discussed how it showed a different perspective of the world, which consists of my hallucinatory visions. I developed this subjective narrative through a schizoanalytic appraisal and applied my thoughts to a critical as well as clinical register. Leon Tan, whose film (made with Virlani Rupini) was shown in the exhibition, asked me questions, and talked about his own work also. Together we discussed how art can promote healing in situations of psychosocial trauma, particularly using Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas about and their methodology of schizoanalysis.

Pooja Sood, who runs KHOJ, said she would have liked to have put my film in the main exhibition, and I had some great responses to it, both during the symposium and afterwards. I connected with several artists, who said that they also have visions. We began to discuss what larger intervention we could manifest together, as a result of the insight and openings uncreased and set free here, floating and yet grounded, beneath the soil and grains of dirt, spit and detritus, and growing reams of shoots and bulbs from the multiplicity of roots that spread across the many corners of the world. I mean, the symposium had a global audience. Participants came from all around the world. The world – its corners don’t trap or confine, we are set free by the agency of the frisky roots which take us to and from them, skipping through time zones, nations and boundaries, spreading hope and clasping hands with friends along the way.

By the end of the symposium I felt surrounded by these friends and so stimulated that the pores in my skin began to ooze with synaesthetic shivers. Hair-raising, but with the comfort and security of company by now, unlike the adventure of the previous night, I settled into this expanded sensorium.

After a rousing, celebratory booze up (or diet coke spritz, in my case)m we confirmed our vows of fraternity and agency. Pooja drove Navjot, Ana and I back and I went to bed. Tumbling thoughts and sensations pervaded the ends of my consciousness as I lay down to settle, safe and secure on the wooden bed. Hypnogogic visions mutated these cerebral happenings and soon my mind was wound with skipping images of hope, release and joy.

This is what I found in Delhi.

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Kinhin in Wollongong

This is a video I took using my iPhone whilst meandering along the beach in Wollongong, Australia, yesterday morning. There are no thoughts. Just a soft, rhythmic pull of the tide’s intrinsic motion. The sand sank and crumbled ‘neath my feet. The sea soaked them, pulling back the crunchy pink and beige crystals, leaving my toes wet, cool and salty. The salt in the sea tinged two of my toes (which had been rubbed raw with blisters from walking around all day in heels). This pungent pique–not quite pain, but sharp, stinging perception–disinfected them. There was a purity of touch in the euphonious fluctuation between the sea, the sand, and my feet. I tried (but failed) to walk in time to this.

I was here to do a performance at a conference called ‘Provocations’ in Wollongong. The subject matter pontificated here was provocative in a theoretical sense: sex, pornography, the volatility of normality, doing and undoing our bodies, vibrant and vibrating materialities, all sorts of genders, technologies and politics, class, narcissism and fat (my own as well as activists’), migration, nomadic rhizomes of thought (and action), pathological wound cultures, social and structural injustice, and the rest (which circulated like a drone around the delegates, arousing and questioning).

My own part of this Happening was to provoke in a literal sense, by performing in a TRANCE in front of these pontificating intellectuals. They raved about their Queer and queerer theories. Then I did my pseudo-dance. Not really dancing at all, but responding to my own heartbeat, enveloped by the rhythmic sound, I splodged around the foyer, quasi-elastically. Listening to my core, which was retching emotions of anger, fear, impatience, but also joy, shame, elation, I wrenched the corpuscular molecules of muscle and (mostly) fat that comprised my massive corpus, and moved across the floor and up and down the walls. Not particularly delicately. No where near grace.

And yet. Yes. There were moments of connection between myself and my body which fulfilled the said intentions I had proceeded with. Some of the voyeurs found it hard to articulate what they had seen. Others found it titillating. More still (at least) provocative.

Performance complete (see⬇%EF%B8%8F-under/ for documentation), I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of my flying visit to Australia. At the conference, I was particularly impressed and stimulated by Erin Manning and Brian Massumi’s interventions with the Sense Lab. Erin and Brian are superstars in the world of creative theory and cultural studies. At the conference they elevated thought into play, by encouraging delegates to use their imagination and creativity to contribute their own interpretations of texts, problems or suggestions. I got going on this, particularly on the last day of the conference, and started delicately ripping up bits of cardboard (my intention being to make a fractal snowflake) and declaring suggestions and questions (written in fragments, printed on pieces of paper, flung around the room) to other participants. Hampered by an immediate and hypocritical restraint by a member of the Sense Lab, I retreated. A few minutes later, I played cat’s cradle with Erin, and elastics with someone else. At a serious conference this was novel. I wondered what kind of knowledge these activities were disseminating, what was the point (or telos), and without it, what was going on? We use these sorts of activities to teach Foundation art students at Cambridge Regional College. With much fun and games. Pure, unrestrained creativity. Except at Wollongong I was restrained, which spiked my sensitivity.

I had to leave to return to Sydney before this session was finished, so I did not see what happened. I wish I had done. I am a major fan of Erin and Brian’s work with the Sense Lab, and I wish I had the chance to really engage with their work, make things, critique them, and construct decisions that pertain to understand the world from a Sensual point of view.

On the way back to Blighty I had the fortune to stay with my brother Edward’s oldest friend, Sam, in Sydney. He took my to Bondi Beach for dinner, where I ate the most exquisite piece of salmon I have ever eaten. This morning we went to Manley to say hi to his parents and I fell in love with their gorgeous sausage dog Daphne. Now I’m at the airport waiting for my plane. I miss the horses and can’t wait to get back home.