Dinbych Saith

I am extremely proud and delighted to announce Dinbych Saith, a special commissioned exhibition currently on show at the 2013 National Eisteddfod of Wales in Denbigh, and carried out in collaboration with writer, performer, artist and jigsaw-puzzler Eilir Jones. It’s a response to the cultural and historical impact of the North Wales Hospital on Denbigh and surrounding areas.

It’s on from 3-10 August in the Lle Celf pavilion, and at selected times Eilir and myself will also be operating an on-site clinic, set up to collect memories, thoughts and stories about the hospital. Come along and share something with us, even if it’s just to tell us that you’ve never heard of the place.

Occupational Therapy Occupational Therapy

A couple of old dreams

I found some writing in a long-forgotten folder on my hard drive while I was looking for something else. This is from around 14 years ago.

I’m working in the bar, and there’s a woman there who seems to be up to something. She’s approaching people on the pretext of asking for change for paper money, but then just taking the change and not handing the paper money over. I watch her for a while, and I can’t believe what I’m seeing. I’m determined to prevent her from leaving the bar until I actually get some kind of explanation from her. I tell the doorman about her, and get him to keep an eye on her, but I don’t really trust him – he’s seems particularly ineffectual tonight. I really don’t understand what’s going on – I mean, what on earth are the victims thinking? Are they stupid?! How can you just let someone take your money and not even ask for something in return? I notice that she keeps looking towards the doors, as if she’s checking how to leave without being caught, but she eventually realises that I’m watching her. She goes back to her trick of getting people to give her money. The only explanation for people’s compliance is that she’s exerting some sort of mind control over them. I’m quite frightened by this – if she tries anything on me, then the chances are I won’t be able to do a thing about it. I’ve got to concentrate really hard. She makes a move towards the exit again, but I stand in the way, puffing my chest out to give myself more presence – I’m determined not to let her out without her giving back the money she’s conned from the customers.

The next thing I know she’s out. I’ve got to go after her. The people in the bar have confirmed that they were powerless to do anything about her, they were paralysed, and absolutely helpless. This is dangerous, but I’m determined to get her.

I’m in the street, and wherever she is, she knows I’m looking for her. I feel a sudden spasm seize my whole body. This is serious now. Another spasm hits. I must concentrate on keeping my mind and full control of my body. If I relax for a second, she’ll have me. I’m in a tunnel now, and it’s dark save for a few coloured lights. Gzzzzt – another seizure. I can feel her icy hands trying to poke around inside my head, and it’s making my face contort. I’m really in trouble now, but I press on through the tunnel. I suddenly have an idea – the only way I can keep her from getting inside my head and completely taking control is to take acid, but the combined effects of the acid and her attempts at manipulation are severely weird. The tunnel becomes more colourful, and I eventually make it into a deep channel carved between thick ice. It’s tough going in here – it’s cold, and I’m still struggling to keep control of my body and mind. I must maintain awareness of who I am – I’ve got to keep control. Luckily, Lisa, my friend’s sister, is positioned high up at the top of the channel. She has a mirror, and is deflecting the sun’s rays onto the walls of the ice channel to try and melt them. As I stagger along below her, she tells me how this will help to counteract the bad woman’s long-range powers. I thank her, and stumble onwards.

The next thing I know I’m sitting at my computer at home, trying to find the woman over the internet. I’m still high on acid, and even though she’s probably miles away by this time, she’s still trying to get inside me. The spasms and contortions are happening quite often now. I’m pulling bizarre faces, and my arms are flying around above my head. The effort I’m exerting to stay in one piece is really tiring me out. After a while, I become aware that the students working in the library opposite my window are watching me with a strange fascination. I’m concentrating too hard to worry about them, though. If only they knew what I was going through!

Suddenly the woman is actually inside my computer, and her tiny head emerges from the monitor. I grab it quickly and there’s a real tug-of-war as I try to pull her out further and she tries to get back in. I’ve got her head in both hands now, and I bash it repeatedly against the side of the monitor, hoping to knock her out. It briefly crosses my mind that this is exactly what she wants me to do, but I don’t care any more.

The dream ends.


Another dream. This one occurred before I cared too much about capitalisation.

i am starring in a film, which i am watching at the same time as acting in it. film opens.
scene 1 – a huge, long shingle beach, ascending steeply from the sea. hundreds of people are walking up it, inland. to my left is a landfill site, with dozens of scavengers roaming around on it, searching, picking things out of the debris. on my right, the shingle extends as far as the eye can see. i am with two companions. we reach the top of the incline, and i note that over on the right there are some new buildings. i try to deduce from the nature of the buildings whereabouts we are being filmed. i conclude that we are most likely on the barren north eastern english coast, possibly northumberland. we walk around to the left, to a high wall overlooking a courtyard. everywhere, on the pavement, on the road, on top of the wall and particularly in the courtyard, there are small shrines, surrounded by lots of tiny plastic figures. the one at our feet resembles a scene from the wild west.

scene 2 – a huge futuristic control room. i am seated at the back. dozens of other people are seated further in front, in raised booths. the booths/pods are at different heights, and the whole room is dark, lit sparingly by a few ceiling mounted purple spotlights. people in the booths are able to communicate via a speaker system. we all speak in code. we are trying to calculate something. one piece of code is repeated again and again. it is a short sequence of letters that has a certain special significance.

scene 3 – a tube station. i walk along the platform with my companions, past people that i recognise. i have been to this station before, and it seems like a good location choice. b____ is playing the part of a station porter. i smile in recognition, and am amused by the fact that he’s here on set. i worry that my smile was out of character with the part that i’m playing, but then i realise that if the director had not been happy with it, he’d had made us redo the scene. further on, i see h_____ playing a cleaner. he empties the bins on the platform. at the end of the platform is a table, surrounded by 6 or 7 men, all dressed in grey or brown anoraks and cardigans. they all wear thick-lensed tortoiseshell glasses, and i have the impression that they are engineers of some sort. one of them reads a newspaper, while another laughs, talking and holding the attention of the remaining men. he says something to the effect that most people would assume that from their appearance, his colleagues were not humorous people. he makes a gesture as if to say – ‘but what nonsense! look at us here! we are in fact very humorous!’. the others laugh heartily, and it is indeed a funny moment, one which makes the whole film more credible.

scene 4 – a guest house. my room is number 13. i am new here. i live next door to a person of indian origin. i do not know whether they are male or female. earlier in the film, i heard mention of an exotic name, which was shrouded in mystery. i wonder whether the person living next door to me is that person with the mysterious name. on their door is some writing, which i have trouble reading. it doesn’t seem to correspond to the name that i heard.
often, when i return to my room, i go to the wrong floor. my room is on the first floor, but i always seem to end up on the third floor, outside room number 35. the doors are deceptively similar. i used to share my room with someone, but they have moved out. i never met them, but they left lots of their belongings on the bed and in the cupboards. i realise that all their things are small toys – plastic dolls, furry animals and such. i wonder whether they will ever return to collect them.
i am happy in the room. i go to open the window over my bed – it is a large window, with a complicated opening mechanism. i have to hold the top and swing it towards me – it pivots horizontally and rotates so that there is a gap at the top. it is heavy, and i worry about breaking it. i stand by the window and look out – the room is high up on a hill, and obviously situated on the outskirts of london. i can see the whole city stretching out into the distance beneath me. i am proud and excited to be standing here, and very glad that i was asked to be in the film. i feel that i played my part well.

the dream ends.

Mynwent Ffordd Ystrad

When patients at the North Wales Hospital died, surviving family members were given the option to claim the body and arrange burial. Patients that were not claimed, for whatever reason, were buried up to six deep in an unmarked section of the Ystrad Road Cemetery.

Welcome to Llandudno

Here eventually is the film I made for Adain Avion, the Cultural Olympiad project initiated by Marc Rees. Thanks to Marc, and to all the people that appear in it.

Digital Crafts

Do you want to hear me struggling to articulate simple artistic concepts in front of a small audience? If so, you’re in luck. Have a look at this – it’s the final public presentation of the Digital Crafts project I’ve been doing with Louise Christie, Peter Hathaway and Wendy Leah Dawson.

Many thanks to northern bloc and Datrys for enabling it to happen.