My mind is sunshine distilled through a bed of nails, shining but hard to hold, especially also when the skin feels like shifting sands, and the soul and its perceptions seem like a mirage.
What is grounding me and connecting me to the world are lots of artistic projects. There is a new one on the horizon: I will be part of a project, still in its infancy, that hopes to explore unusual mental states and film, which will be launched in March 2013 at the Barbican, where one of my films will be shown.
But the thing at the moment that is stroking and calming my amphetamised wings is making this film of Portugal Prints for Diverse Perspectives, commissioned by DAO and the Royal Academy.
When I researched the film, I went to visit Portugal Prints at one of their bases in Soho. The first thing that hits you is the warmth of the place, you are instantly accepted as family. So I decided to make a film exploring the heart of Portugal Prints. I am very near the end of making the film, just two more days of filming next week. I have already filmed their haiku event at the Tate Modern; I have interviewed Kate Horbury, the ex-access officer of the Royal Academy, about her love affair with Portugal Prints; and I have filmed a linocut printing workshop at the Royal Academy, run by the artist Phil Baird and the amazingly named Becky Jelly, which was attended by Portugal Print members who created some beautiful stuff.
The crux of the film though will be the filming next week, where I will film at the Soho base and interview members about art, mental health, and the heart, which for so many has been told to shrink, but where at Portugal Prints, you see the greenhouse of hearts grow.
On October the 13th, as part of DAO 'Diverse Perspectives' Programme, I will be filming the Mental Health Day event at the Tate Modern. My film is about Portugal Prints . They are awesome and amazing and inspiring, and it will be a honour to follow them around for the day, filming their Haiku event.
This is what they say of their event:
The Haiku Festival 2012 is a pilot online social media event developed by Westminster Mind’s art project Portugal Prints. On Saturday the 13th October 2012 between 1.00pm and 5.30pm we will be holding a public event at Tate Modern where people can participate in writing their own verse (there will be a selection of beautiful handmade papers to choose from) are creating your own images, which will then be strung to an installation along with some of the best Tweets. There is already media interest in the event so anyone who is intending to join us who maybe photophobic should wear their ‘Free Pussy Riot’ balaclavas.
If you can't attend this free event, you can twitter your haikus to @Haiku_2012
This is my haiku, inspired by the upcoming event:
On Mental Health Day
I capture the poetry
Of Portugal Prints
I will be exhibiting at the Within Without You Exhibition, as part of the the Bath Fringe Festival. The exhibition was the brainchild of Brian Robert Gibson, whom I met at some Outsider In training, and with some other artists who are part of Outsider In www.outsidein.org.uk/, plus a few from further afield, this exhibiton and blog came about to explore what it is to be an outsider.
As Brian says himself, this event is 'a space to explore where we are placed and where we place ourselves within any given spectrum.'
The exhibition with be at: The Pet Store, 7 Upper Borough Walls, Bath, Avon BA1 1QR
25th May-10th June 2012 - 10am-6pm
Private View: Fri 25th May 6-9pm
The blog for the event, which showcases art and words from the outsider artists themselves, is at withinwithoutyou.info/
Here is an example of one of my poems from the blog:
You say my sun shines too bright,
but if you have had the dark clouds I’ve had,
you could give nothing less.
Yes, sometimes the sun blinds others.
But with it, I can just about see where I am going.
You can turn off the light if you want, you have the power.
You can give me back the dark room.
But once in there, you ask me to leave that too.
1000 watt or nothingness is me, I guess.
You can force the 50 watt on me, but it doesn’t fit the slot.
I have tried pushing it in; my soul is torn to prove it.
Until you change your light into one that fits,
one that shines and doesn’t laugh at dreams,
let me shine my way, until I can see where I am going,
and the sun can rest behind the trees.
On September 22nd I will be presenting a paper at the 'In the Mainstream' conference at De Montfort University, Leicester, organised by The MeCCSA Disability Studies Network.
The conference aims to re-visit and re-evaluate the complex issues at stake in contemporary representations of disability and impairment from a variety of critical perspectives, investigating both continuities and new trends in representing disability
My presentation will be on my experience as both a ‘mad’ filmmaker and a ‘mad’ documentary subject. This unique position has made me sensitive to how documentary-makers use ethics and objectivity in their films, because time and time again in broadcast media I have been squashed into a box of their preconceptions and prejudices, and the essence of who I am is lost.
And as a film-maker making films about mental health, where it isn’t to be pitied, feared, or used to alienate, scare, and antagonize, I have come up against ignorance and hostility from commissioners and other film-makers, who think I am exhibiting ‘symptoms’ of mental illness by saying that there are other ways to view mental distress and difference than the medical model. It has definitely been an interesting experience. I would also like to touch upon Mad Culture.
As a mad person, am I one-dimensional, visually different, soulless, with only evil in my heart? Am I person to be feared? To be pitied? To be laughed at? Am I not allowed to be loved? Am I not allowed to be sexy? I want to be represented on the screen as nothing less than who I am. Is it possible?
When I used to believe in Recovery as concept and practice, I took part in a film about the subject matter, made by my good friend Michelle McNary.
I think she made a really touching and powerful film. It was made for our local Mental Health Trust, so my decision to wear my mad pride t-shirt was deliberate!
Recovery and mental illness: part two continues a series of edited testimonies from system survivors on youtube
Fundraiser Event at the Candid Arts Trust
6th November 2009
screening of Leo Regan/The Doctor who Hears Voices with Q/A with Doctor and the protagonist Rufus May
This is to raise money for a documentary on psychosis by Dolly Sen
Starts at 19.00 2 Torrens Street, London, EC1V 1NQ
(Right behind Angel tube station)
I DO MIND FILMS presents ‘voices from a strange land’
Lurking behind tabloid interest in the mental health crises of celebrities is a vast unease around mental ill-health. The everyday stigmatisation of the Mad affects everyone. Films about madness are usually made by people who have not been there.
Dolly Sen has been there, and is making a travelogue about a place few return from unscathed. Most films about madness turn us into something to be feared or vilified, it does not see the strength of the people who go through it daily and still manage to stand. This film hopes to address that aspect. The film seeks to be a work of art, but also to help dispel the ignorance around this subject matter. The Candid Arts Trust in Angel, London is hosting a fundraiser to raise money for this important film on the experience of psychosis on September 8th 2009 with a night of film music, words, comedy and massage.
Date: Tuesday 8th Sept 2009
Venue: The Projection Room, Candid Arts Trust, 3 Torrens Street, London, EC1V 1NQ
Travel: Angel Tube, & Buses
Time: 6pm to 9.30pm
Web: http://www.idomind.org.uk/id6.html & http://www.candidarts.com/
Line Up 8 September
3 films about psychosis Dolly Sen – MC
Rai Studley writes about life, love, madness and the little things inside her head that refuse to be silenced. Playing a mix of acoustic guitar-based tunes and some truly breathtaking acapella, her songs have a habit of touching something deep inside you. http://www.myspace.com/raistudleymusic
Madeleine Bridgett is a poet based in Brighton, UK. Born in Sydney, Australia, she worked as a social worker for many years advocating for very marginalised and vulnerable groups of people living on the fringes of society. Having presented at both national and international conferences, Madeleine has been involved in creating change to improve the quality of life for many people.
Madeleine moved to the UK in 2004 and began a career writing and performing poetry. Her poetry is inspired by people and she is fascinated by the human condition. In 2006 she produced her own live chat show which gets filmed for internet broadcast.
Liz Bentley is a mother, writer, poet, musician and therapist. She has been working on the stand up poetry circuit for 6 years. Her experiences include 3 successful shows at the Edinburgh Fringe (last year performing, programming and hosting over 50 shows in Edinburgh’s only swimming pool venue (in the pool!) with artists including John Hegley, Robin Ince, Luke Wright to name but a few). She has hosted and performed at disability events such as DaDaFest, Liberty, Boundless and at mainstream festivals such as Latitude festival, Reading and Birmingham comedy festivals.
“Definitely one of my Fringe highlights” Three Weeks *****
“Like a female Ivor Cutler” The Scotsman
“Bentley is beguiling. Such an exhilarating experience” Chortle
AND MORE TO COME!!! Vjing by the PIMPS OF PERCEPTION
Massage by Paula Bailey
hey there guys, the last month I have been mostly in front of my computer, fundraising and form filling, and there's nothing to report about that, except it seems easier to write a book than fill out a funding application. The only time I have left the house is to go scouting for locations for my Trapped Birds documentary or meeting with my lovely producer Nora Somogyvari, a fellow LCC student and native of Hungary. She has been amazing, and has brought a lot of Hungarian crew to the project, which I am excited about.
One of the things we are working on is a film fundraiser at Candid Arts in Angel London, where she works. Will let you know when it is finalised what the details are. We also went Angel hunting at Stoke Newington Cemetery for use in the film.
Apart from that, I have been a normal human being, enduring normal pain of bereavement and mourning (My grandad and cousin). Have fallen in lust with someone (poor them) and am moaning about the weather. I almost feel like part of the human race!
One thing of note, my madness is going international. I have just done an interview for Arab tv (Al Arabiya) and am helping a Japanese Production Company make a film about mental health. I would love to do a world tour eventually. Hee hee.
I also went to London Pride, which was good fun. I think there should be a disability arts presence there next year. Well, the Catholics and Conservatives were there. And I don't want to march on my own.
Ah, life is never normal, it is a star dancing on snowflake that is stuck up the nose of a monkey that doesn't believe in stars.
I was over the moon to get picked to direct a documentary on psychosis as my graduation for university, but now it is the dirty business of raising funds. I want to raise unrestricted funds, in that the usual suspects who fund these kind of films are medical based, and I want to get away from the medical model.
So here are the details of what I want to do:
A synopsis of the idea It is a self-reflexive documentary about the experience of psychosis, focusing on the sensory aspect of it but also touching upon delusion. The film will be partly experiential in that through the film the viewer will hear voices and see visual hallucinations, but also how it affects people who have psychosis, their sense of identity, perception, and communication. It is a documentary that has no claims to objectivity which absorbs drama and art because by its very nature psychosis is not a reality shared.
Why you want to make this film?
I have personal experience of psychosis, and want to show what it is like as accurately as I can, and make the viewer experience it in is some small way, so as to gain a better understanding of it. There is the scientific element to the experience and want to use this documentary why so many people who go through it do not see it as an illness, and are resistant to scientific intervention. Because it isn’t necessary a negative experience. After the 1000th ride of this burning mental carnival, you start to see something else. You see, as the train rides upward, you get closer to the stars than everyone else. You hear music that no-one else hears, your soul makes its own symphonies when everyone else has to buy their song. You see psychosis can be magic at times, but it is a precocious and precarious magic. You have to be careful, you have to make sure you can put yourself back together when you saw yourself in half. Houdini did on the physical plane what mad people do mentally every single day – to very little applause. Some people see weakness, I see immense strength in those who are still standing. This is rarely touched upon in films on psychosis. I want to humanize what is seen as unfairly pathological. When the ‘real’ world is full of bills, unkindness, wars and stigma, staying in psychosis is very seductive. I would also like to highlight why so many people in psychotic crisis slip through the net and commit suicide; crisis care in this country asks you to pick up the phone when you are also hearing voices, and wait for hours in A&E whilst you are experiencing an emotional and mental apocalypse being actually surrounded by bleeding, crying, broken-boned people. Mental health services ask people in distress to swim the Channel when they are already drowning. I want the film to provide a challenging argument to those who want to maintain things as it is.
I want this film to stand as a work of art but I know from my work in mental health this kind of film would be invaluable for mental health professionals to understand better the people who they are trying to help, and in their training. But also to dispel ignorance about this aspect of mental health generally.
So if you are able to donate just even a fiver, thats cool. You can do it by going to http://www.idomind.org.uk/id6.html or in kind support is cool too. love Dollyx
I had to renew my tv licence this week, even though I have stopped watching TV. I think this happened because I used to contemplate suicide every time I watched Richard and Judy or Jeremy Kyle. If I was in charge of TV, I would adapt some current programmes to be more relevant to Mad People such as myself. Like: How Clean is Your Madhouse? MADWATCH - filmed reconstructions of your crimes of normality. Antics Roadshow Real or No Real Medication, medication, medication How to Look Good Strip-searched and Restrained Who do you think you are.. no really...
Sorry guys, it's been way too long since I last blogged properly here. It's just I have been so busy and I have been living in a cardboard box. No, I am not homeless. I have been a set designer for a super16mm film called 'HERON'. It is written and directed by my adopted son Gary. The main character Edgar Gregory lives in a room made out of cardboard, cardboard bed, desk, mug and computer. One night he meets a heron... That's all I am going to tell you, but basically it is an existential crisis made out of cardboard. Move over home make-over shows, let Dolly make you a bath made out of the best of tesco's rejected brown stuff!
I had my documentary film about schizophrenia shown at Cannes this is year in one of the minor festivals www.cannesinavan.com
As part of that festival, 'Life as a Side Effect' will be shown at the The Movieum of London, where you can rub shoulders with Storm Troopers and Indiana Jones. How cool is that?
I haven't been blogging for a while because I have been running around like a headless chicken both at uni and in organising the mad chicks gig at corsica. We have been given crazy projects such as making 50 films in 5 days. I am production designer on my current project and I have to make a room - and its furniture - entirely out of cardboard, including the computer! Jeez. We are need a large space to construct this room, so if anybody can help us out, please drop me a line.
The highlight of the week was the mad chicks gig last sunday. Everything went smoothly, more than that magic was created and everyone there felt it. I am not quite sure how the magic was created. Every act exploded with intense essense, I think that helped but the mysterious ingredient is unnameable. I did the organising with one of my best friends Melanie. I am all raw energy and she is like the man in 'one man and his doggone chaos theory' guiding me like a shephard into a form the rest of the world can understand. She is great with detail. Numbers and logic make me want to dance into the nearest padded room. So we make a good team. Thanks to everyone else though, couldn't have done it without you.
Apart from being at art school studying film, I do lots of other things. When I am not depressed my mind swings into hypomania and I have to do 15 things at once if I want to avoid the almost physical pain of doing nothing.
One of the things I am doing is putting on a Mad Chicks gig. Mad Chicks started in 2004 as the girly wing of Mad Pride by Melanie Clifford, Gini Simpson, Esther Leslie, Sarah Tonin, Esther Wheatley, Rachel Studley, Penny Shaughnessy and Debbie McNamara, and of course me.
Mad Chicks is a movement, which focuses on issues specific to women mental health service users, using creativity to achieve our aims and attract attention to our causes. We have developed from within Mad Pride, an international user-led movement which challenges discrimination and misinformation in relation to mental health and celebrates mad culture. We have put on 3 events so far.
And celebrate it we do. On March 9th at Corsica Studios we are going to publicly and beautifully 'lose it' with such acts as
Ana da Silva
Ana da Silva, if you didn't know, was part of the legendary punk band The Raincoats, apparently one of Kurt Cobain's favourite bands, and one of mine too!
Come to the gig and give you a serotonin orgasm with a wild night of music, poetry, comedy and film at Corsica Studios.