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Colin Hambrook puts on a man suit

I am pleased the way that the blog section of DAO has taken off in the past few months. Having the opportunity to publish work continues to be a pleasure that I am very grateful for.

When you've grown up with the idea that you need fixing in some way it makes parenthood even more of a challenge...

Man Suit
This baby place
remembers you,
newly made
a smile,
perhaps imagined,
and a way of holding
the little finger
outwards,
as if grasping an invisible
cup of tea
at a garden party.

All-consuming,
you transformed lives;
brought the seemingly
unobtainable
within reach;
eager to climb rocks,
when even crawling
was dangerous,
slippery.

I grew several
heads in a bid
for reinvention;
searching each
face for self-belief
as a father.

Love was easy
as leaves,
in the woods
making dens
of our soft
hearts.
I could
fall into you -
a place of stories
and play.

Caring was
plain as pudding -
not like now,
watching you
shun a mans' suit;
without hands or feet;
and barely a mouth
to describe the new
skin trembling
to grow into the gap
between realities.

© Colin Hambrook

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 28 July 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 29 July 2010

'Dreams of the Absurd...'

In the 1990s I put together a visual arts exhibition called 'Dreams of the Absurd' which got shown in various galleries in the UK and abroad.

It was an extension of a series of large-scale paintings, prints and writing about experience of mental health issues. During research I did whilst still at college I connected the work with the representation of 'madness' within the history of art.

I've been trying to get back into making and showing my own work since the those days... With encouragement from other artists engaged with DAO I'm putting tentative feet back in the water...

So here is a poem that relates to my experience of growing up in a psychotic household and dealing with issues of psychosis personally from a tender age...

 

 

On Healing my Childhood
On RD Laings' fit of promise
I gave you a magic potion, hidden
in a steaming plate of baked beans.

You held your demons in suspension
for a while. I hoped you would find forgiveness
in the small hours and learn to be kinder.

Building a time machine with sticky
back plastic, you concocted a
spell; attempted to undo our births.

I put a band-aid on each moment that hurt you;
went to the moon for help, but couldn't find
my way past the myriad of therapists
who crowded the path to the place of no pain.

The universe exploded with nazi meditators
surrounded in light oozing from every orifice.
I travelled to the end of London and back
to find a potent enough medicine to calm your
nerves; put schizophrenia in remission;
denied its existence to release the guilt.

I tried remembering everything you had ever said;
confessed to the time doctor who gave you yet more
electricity in the name of healing. When
you blamed the next-door-neighbours
I wrapped myself in a ball and sent myself to the talisman.

Calling on blood and stone; I found the faces of change
in the place where the gods live and empowered
each memory with a prayer for healing.

You listened to my heart, made promises for every secret
and bound our love to the four corners of the wind
before your white blood cells dried up and died
of largatyl, chlorpramazine, depixol and modicate.

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 19 July 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 27 July 2015

A poem on experience of ECT from Colin Hambrook

I try hard when writing poetry… sometimes too hard. Scanning this drawing into the computer somehow gave it an even more oppressive feel. Playing with the contrast made it that much starker.

The drawing wasn't made for the poem, but the mood of the drawing sums up some of the suppressed rage in this poem. There is a central figure in battle with demons and strange fizzing machines rising above him. So many of my drawings express different aspects of psychosis...

In many ways my life has been shaped by the moment the psychiatrist took me into my bedroom, aged ten, and subtly demanded to know all the 'mad' things my mum had been saying, on a promise he would make her better.

He took her away and gave her so much ECT she couldn’t remember her children when we came to see her in hospital.

Burning
Held fast in the youth chair;
vacant, rebellious,
you are a broken cup
that smashes
a little more
every time
I try
to pick you up.

Your expression
burns my skin
reminds me of
that recurring dream
haunting early childhood
memory;
a black and white
movie picture of mum
melting;
the smell of burning
rubber,
waking me
night on night
till, finally…

They burnt her temple
lobes with their 'all
for the best' ethos
that’s fucked us
generation after
fucking generation!
 

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 14 July 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 15 July 2010

Colin Hambrook gets inspired by film-maker Jean Cocteau

I've been thinking of posting some of my poetry for some time now. Poetry is one of those things I do to keep going when life gets tough.

I love Jean Cocteau's 1949 retelling of the story of Orpheus. I was born in the underworld. So-called schizophrenia came knocking on the door when I was still in the womb.

Going through mirrors, down holes, into the labyrinth, is something I'm overly familiar with. It's defined who I am. It seems to me that Jean Cocteau understood something about being 'outside.' This clip from Orphée, sums up some of that feeling.

Disability
(with homage to Jean Cocteau’s ‘Orphée’ - La traversée du Miroir)

At birth, Orpheus
was lurking
landing outside
the parentai bedroom.
The jewels he offered,
gloves that shlurped
backwards, bedazzling…
enough reward
to warrant
a lifetime in Hades.

Watching from the outside -
it is enough to incite
laughter; endure war;
believe the smile of the
pin-stripe; walk on water,
and move through
liquid glass -
silica turned to h2o.

We are a family
of miracles,
Orpheus smiles
and we follow;
it's in our genes
gin and so-called
schizophrenia
 

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 6 July 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 8 July 2010