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This Diverse Perspective is looking for the heart of Portugal Prints

 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.

Posted by Dolly Sen, 8 December 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 9 December 2012

Blogging Workshop and the Shameless Promotion of Lux the Dog

 I was asked by Creative Futures to guest speak at a blogging workshop run by our very own Colin Hambrook. I don't claim to be a blogging expert, but I enjoy it and have learned over the years its power and its lessons. I am glad I was asked because it made me think about my process, and why I like it so much. I distilled most of what I discovered about blogging into a powerpoint presentation. I think it is self explanatory. Except for maybe the pic of Lux, my dog. I try to slip my muse into everything, and have managed to slip her into every powerpoint I have done in the last few years, see my subversive powerpoint, as an example. Although when I am teaching psychiatrists, they see it as a symptom of my madness, I see them not getting it as a symptom of theirs. I do hope when lux does a powerpoint, she slips in a photo of me! 

 

Note from Lux the dog: I do plan to do a powerpoint on doggy creativity and the tyranny of humanism in art. I might slip in a photo of Dolly, it depends. 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 22 October 2012

Last modified by Dolly Sen, 22 October 2012

Haiku for Mental Health Day at the Tate Modern.

 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

 

 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 30 September 2012

Last modified by Dolly Sen, 30 September 2012

My piece at Shape's 'Perception of Balance' exhibition

I received the good news that one of my pieces was accepted for the Perceptions of Balance Exhibition at Shape Arts.   My piece is called ‘Balanced Mind’

I have been labeled ‘mad’ by society, so therefore seen as unbalanced. Society’s way of redressing that is not to help me make sense of the childhood trauma that triggered my psychosis, nor to tackle inequality and discrimination in society because of that label. Its way was to medicate me into submission. For decades I was on antipsychotic medication. I did not laugh or cry on these meds. Is this well balanced? It took away my symptoms but my life too. Is that a fair payoff, a balanced payoff?

A tablet does not cure abuse, isolation, or stigma. But I was sedated, out of society’s hair. They said the tablets would make me feel better. Please define better when I have lost my soul. Maybe you don’t need a soul nowadays. 

The message: don’t speak your mind. Your silence and submission are signs of being well-balanced.

So my art shows that the medication weighs heavier, and the promise of peace of mind, of having my life back is an empty promise, not worth the prescription pad it is written on.

I have given up the meds and regained my life. Some may say that shows I am unbalanced. I say it makes perfect sense. 

There is a private view of the exhibition on the 20th Sept. 

Date: Thursday 20th September 
Time: 6pm 
Location: Shape. Deane House Studios, 27 Grenwood Place, London NW5 1LB

Please RSVP to jenny@shapearts.org.uk and let us know if you have any access requirements.

Posted by Dolly Sen, 5 September 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 9 September 2012

Dolly Sen does 4thought

 Here is my itty-bitty contribution to Channel 4 Goes Mad season. 4Thought asked the question: 'What is Madness?' I could have talked for hours on the subject, but if fact the producer didn't want me to answer it but tell my story in a minute and a half. I would have liked longer to qualify some of what I said, but here it is www.4thought.tv/themes/what-is-madness/dolly-sen.

What has been interesting about the 4thought this week, when it poses that question is the debate it has brought up amongst people who use mental health services themselves. Earlier on in the 4thought week there was a woman who talked about angels, and some people who use services didn't like it, that it showed hearing voices as a positive thing. What is really shocking is that so many people who hear voices and stuck in the system don't know that most voice hearers are not in the system. Romme and Esher did a study on it and they found the difference between the two groups was that those not in mental health services felt they were in control of their voices, whilst those who use the mental health sytem didn't feel in control. 

Here is the angel lady's contribution www.4thought.tv/themes/what-is-madness/rosemarie-moore--2

I know this slot of the lady talking about angels would be very useful in my training around mental health to explore: What is mental health? Because this woman is probably mentally healthier than most people, in that she may be happy, contented, and feel connected to the world. It would start a discussion around hearing voices, and the fact most people don't know that most voice hearers are not in the mental health system, and most voice hearers have helpful, supportive voices. So when is the point that mh professionals deem it pathological? Because the evidence shows pathologising it is a sure way of people suffering more because of it. In societies where voice hearing is acceptable, it has a higher 'recovery' rate. It also opens up the question: what is delusion? Because a Gallup poll in 1995 found 70% people believe in aliens and 31% believed in ghosts. This is an unusual belief but a socially acceptable belief, which brings up the question: how much of psychiatry is based on judgment and social policing than on 'illness'. Believers of God think atheists are deluded, and it is true the other way round. The discussions out of that minute and a half clip can inexorably change and make people questions their beliefs around mental health. And that is a good thing. 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 26 July 2012

Last modified by Dolly Sen, 26 July 2012

Welcome to Action T5

 Anyone who knows about the Nazi's Disability  Euthanasia Programme Action T4, will see unsettling parallels to what is happening to disabled people now. The current demonisation and persecuting of disabled people , the media hype over disabled people being burdens and scroungers, an ecomonic strain to society,  is following the Nazi Euthansia's To Do list to the letter.

I left my last job in April due to stress, which triggered psychosis and depression (which is one of the reasons this blog has been so neglected), and knew the letter from ATOS would be soon on its merry way. And it came, as you can see from the photo I took. Forget the polite language, how I recreated it is how I should have received it. Too many people see us through these lenses of false labels, which will magnify discrimation and hatred, while the person behind it shrinks. 

Fortunately - or unfortunately - I was actually psychotic when I filled in the atos form, and thought I was Jesus, and filled it in accordingly. Someone reassessed the form and decided I needn't go to the atos interview. Give it a few months and I will be asked again to go. As stress is a trigger for psychosis, I may think I am Jesus again and try to cast the demon out of the atos assessor. Or heal the sick, who are the people who work there. Because despite over 1000 people being deemed fit to work dying after their assessment, according to atos and the government, there aren't any ill people about.

Hold on a minute, maybe we have got it the wrong way round and atos are healing people through a patronising and demeaning interview. 

Hallelujah!

Why I have religious convictions when I am an agnotistic, I have no idea.

Posted by Dolly Sen, 18 July 2012

Last modified by Dolly Sen, 18 July 2012

Dolly Sen hosting Resonance Radio slot on suicide prevention

 On friday 18th May 2012 I will be taking to the helm of Resonance Radio's disability slot 'Technical Difficulties' to explore the difficult subject of suicide. I could do a whole series on the subject, but this Friday's show is an introduction to the subject, where I hope to do some myth busting, explain what the warning signs are, and what  resources are available. 

You can listen to it on Resonance Radio 104.4 or through http://resonancefm.com/ at 3.30 on 18/05/2012 

More info on the show in general at http://www.lightchronicles.info/

 

 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 16 May 2012

Last modified by Dolly Sen, 16 May 2012

Within WIthout You - an Outsider Art Exhibition and blog

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:

LITHIUM SUN
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.

Posted by Dolly Sen, 4 April 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 7 April 2012

Dolly Sen's Subversive Powerpoint

 Powerpoint is probably one of the most unsubversive mediums around, it is used 40,000 times a day to tell people what to do, I thought I would reverse the trend a tiny bit by creating a subversive powerpoint.

It all came about when I was part of  the Sync Leadership  www.syncleadership.com and coaching scheme. It really helped me find my focus regarding my arts practice. I was asked to do a presentation at a conference on my subversive career, and Sarah Pickthall, my coach, loved the idea of the powerpoint to accompany it, because she knew I would think it my moral duty to subvert such a dull medium, so here it is! 

www.slideshare.net/cuspinchic/subversivepowerpoint-11201952#

Posted by Dolly Sen, 24 January 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 5 January 2013

Concrete Skin - a poem

Put a soul
As light as a feather
In concrete skin
And broken shoes
And say 'live human live'

Go into hell and make it look
Pretty
Find meaning
In your hopeless
dreaming
Death hurts
And life
has people
Who may
or may not

Love you

Posted by Dolly Sen, 19 July 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 20 July 2011

Senseless flame - a poem

The fire of your passion.
Of your rage
Of your life
Would make the stars laugh
If they could even see you 

You are a senseless flame
Hiding behind a flesh
That cries in secret
and judges other insignificant flames
Behind insignificant scars 

You are a light that needs to burn
A light that this rat race has made putrid 

No wonder the stars
Laugh cynically
At these little flames
Ashamed
Of the light they shed 

You must burn
A cage will be your payment 

Perhaps it is better to
Willfully miss
The rushing sparks
Of dreams 

Through cold fingers

Posted by Dolly Sen, 13 June 2011

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 14 June 2011

The Mad Ten Commandments

Image - dolly_sen_comicdoll.jpg

Well, have been away a while, but this is the year my soul felt like it was dying. By virtue of having a job and the expectation of me to be 'normal', when normality feels like a barbed-wire enema, is sucking the soul out of me. It just grinds on my values. Of course, not all mad people are sensitive, free-thinking people, but I think quite a few are and are being punished for their reactions to a venal, judgemental world. To me, someone yelling to people in a bank that they won't find their souls in there isn't cause for a Section 136; it is a truth people don't want to look at, lest they go mad.

 

So to counteract that world, I have come up with an alternative set of commandments. There was no burning bush to inspire, but some burnt toast as an outcome of scribbling this down.

 

The Mad 10 Commandments

1. Thou shalt not kill free thought
2. Do not worship the ratrace
3. Keep Black Sabbath on your turntable
4. Do not make meds your idol
5. Do not fuck people over
6. Honour your soul and the souls of others
7. Do not steal these commandments; they are copyrighted ;-)
8. Do not lose your sense of humour
9. Do not covet normality
10. Do not follow commandments

Dolly Sen is a visual artist, writer, film-maker, and performer interested in non-consensual reality, outsidership, empathy, authenticity and absurdity.You can find her website at http://www.dollysen.com

Posted by Dolly Sen, 7 June 2011

Last modified by Dolly Sen, 9 June 2011

Dolly Sen will present a paper at Currents In the Mainstream Conference

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?

Posted by Dolly Sen, 18 August 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 5 January 2013

Dolly Sen pays tribute to Amita Patel

I am well aware of the statistic that states one in ten people with serious mental health difficulties will commit suicide. But statistics are for the safe and sound, statistics turn human hearts into empty numbers.

They don't say one in ten people are failed by the mental health service, they don't say one in ten sensitive, kind hearts couldn't take any more of the cruelty and selfishness of the world, or that one in ten talented, artistic people will no longer create.

Two lovely people, two fellow artists, two fellow fighters of the system, two people who I had the hugest respect for, ended their lives in the last few weeks. It has done two things: it has both stoked the fire that will keep me fighting for equality; but it has also left me cold.

Amita Patel was both a writer and an activist. We both shared a love of writing, and when it came to protest the closing down of a culturally sensitve service, I held the left pole of the placard, and she held the right. Survivors Poetry have paid tribute to her on their website

One in ten thoughts will kill you, one in ten people will love you, one in ten words will sing you song, Goodbye friends.

Posted by Dolly Sen, 16 August 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 20 August 2010

You know you are normal when...

 I actually don't like mind normal people, I just don't like normal fundamentalists. I published this a few years back, and the hatemail I got because of it astounded me. How dare I make fun of normal people, although these labels of 'mad' and 'normal' are invented labels and human being is good enough for everyone. Or that I am satirising the unthinking tenets of what normality seems to be.

Posted by Dolly Sen, 9 July 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 7 February 2012

Dolly Sen gives a definition of mad culture

What is Mad Culture?

It is a celebration of the creativity of mad people, and pride in our unique way of looking at life, our internal world externalised and shared with others without shame, as a valid way of life.

It is an acknowledgement that we are reacting to a society that is scared of us and will hijack our art and literature once our artists and writers are dead and therefore deemed safe and easy to control, corrupt and capitalise.

Our culture is that we have control of our lives without being brutalised by a psychiatric system that wants us to conform to an ideal of normality that doesn’t exist anyway. It is challenging the idea that madness is something to be hidden; it realises that visibility counts in order to break the stigma that has a stranglehold over every single mad person alive today. Mad Culture is saying, ‘Yes, yes!” to life even if embarrasses the ‘normals’.

Mad Culture is saying: I won’t hold your sanity against you. My reality is good enough. Is yours? Not all mad people are artistic, some are quite happy to be accountants, and I don’t think mad accountants should be discriminated against.

We are already an alienated sector of society, in fact the most alienated sector of society. We are not full members of this society or culture and that is not going to change without us changing it. Because why is it in their interest to change what makes them feel comfortable and superior. So in that sense we need to create our own culture in which we feel comfortable in. Some would argue that leads to separation, but we are separate. Where does madness fit in ‘normal culture’?

We are the untouchables. Only fit enough to work in sheltered workshops, to be cleaners, media scapegoats and to paint multi-million pound masterpieces. Put simply, in this present culture we have victim status; in our culture, we are just ourselves. WE want a culture that doesn’t produce a suicide every 40 seconds.

Why have pride about suffering distress, some may say? It’s not about that. It is pride in our strength to survive that distress and what it teaches us, and not to feel like lesser beings because of it, and to question why we feel lesser beings because of it, to question that madness is an illness and not a human response to a sick society, a sick upbringing.

Can you imagine a world without music, art, dance and drama? It would be an empty, bland place. So why is the world without your music, art, dance and drama? If life is a stage, is yours worth watching? What would make the show better? Can we change the ending? Or make it a better story? Culture is letting us tell the story not them – it is as simple as that.

Posted by Dolly Sen, 3 July 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 5 January 2013

Dolly Sen is addicted to making new websites

I have 2 new websites set up, I am dogsitting at the moment, so I can't really cause havoc in my public as I usually do, so I am stuck inside, so what to do with my time? Well, I am painting, writing, and creating websites like there is no tomorrow.

My new visual art website has a gallery of painting, drawing and graphic works.

And to ensure better search engine optimisation (SEO) I have created another blog about how I started my career as a professional mad person.

I intend to create blogs for all aspects of my life. Whether I stick to them, though, is another matter. As a pretend human being I have to pretend to be fickle.

Dollyxxx

 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 2 July 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 2 July 2010

Dolly Sen on poetry and the darkness of the soul

I am mostly a happy go lucky person, with a certain cheekiness. I hope when people meet me, they detect the light in me. But I haven't had an easy life, as I have dealt with extreme abuse as a child, and its consequent madness and pain.

Over the period of decades, my madness went from darkness to a strange light with some lapses into the shadows. The soul must do its work, dip into the shadows to see why they are there, and try to remove the caustic monoliths that cast them.

I do not want to bring these shadows into my meetings with other people. They come out in my art and poetry. And so these shadows scatter into the smaller shadows of letters and words. Sometimes they make sense. Sometimes they are cathartic. Sometimes they are an incitement to immerse myself more in the shadows. But I won't step deeper - one poem at a time. I like the light too much...

 

Friction
The friction of life
On skinless hope
The kisses of love
Bleach lost flesh
I don’t mind
My new scars
Protect me
From the sweetest breezes


Everything that has touched me
Has left its imprint
Of boot kicks and butterflies

I am raw sculpture
Still unmade
Yet I refuse to let
The softest part of me
Turn to stone
I can’t even cry

Tears are inflammatory
My mind immolates
Kills itself with fire

There is not enough water in my dreams
There is not enough ice in my sleep

Spit on me

 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 1 July 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 2 July 2010

Dolly Sen sets up Mental Health Training Company

I graduated from Uni about a month ago, and said to myself, I am going to take a year off. But only two weeks into that resolve, I became bored and am productive again.

I am looking for work - and also creating work for myself. One of the ways I am doing that is to promote what I already love doing. So I have a lot of website and updating to do, like my artist website etc.

The first site that is nearly done is Ascend Mental Health Training and Consultancy. Check it out if you have the chance. I am going to add a blog to that website soon as well. If you have any ideas where I could promote the service, drop me a line, I would very much appreciate it.

Also am going to make all my websites more accessible - now I know how to do it!

Posted by Dolly Sen, 17 June 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 17 June 2010

Dolly Sen posts Recovery Film by Michelle McNary

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

 

Posted by Dolly Sen, 12 June 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 14 June 2010

Dolly Sen does the Eastbourne Herald

I've done an interview with the Eastbourne Herald about living with mental illness as part of Depression Awareness Week, which started on 17 April.

Posted by Dolly Sen, 28 April 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 30 April 2010

Dolly Sen writes a poem while waiting for the gasman under a Lithium Sun -

Am waiting for the gasman to make an appearance at my mum's so they can fix her boiler, I have done my work for the day, so instead of twiddling my thumbs, I did a bit of writing about bipolar. I was inspired by my friend Lynn Harrison posting 'Lithium' by Nirvana on her FaceBook page.

LITHIUM SUN
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.

 

Hey up folks - my friend Dawn Willis has written an Open Letter to Stigmatising Mental Health Charities on her Wordpress blog

Posted by Dolly Sen, 22 April 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 23 April 2010

Dolly Sen does BBC Radio Sussex

I have just moved to Eastbourne. BBC Sussex presenter Danny Pike interviewed me about the stigma attached to being labelled with a mental health condition - as part of Mental Health Action week.

Posted by Dolly Sen, 8 April 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 12 April 2010

Dolly Sen writes a one-off blog for Mind

My one-off blog for Mind about access to psychological therapies gives an opinion on supporting Mind’s 'We Need to Talk' campaign.

Let me know what you think?

At the moment I am mostly thinking why He-man had a girl's hairstyle?

xxx

Posted by Dolly Sen, 27 March 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 29 March 2010