Knitting Time is finally on the horizon

Knitting-Time-sun-smallA starting point for the work on show in the Knitting Time exhibition is a collection of poems which explore personal narratives from infancy to the present time. The stories stem from my induction as an infant into the delusionary belief system of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. My mum became lost to strange beliefs after the JWs kicked us all out as representatives of Satan come to disturb the flock. One of her beliefs involved the ascribing of animal spirits to individuals and groups of people. As a child I was ‘Mole’ and I still sign much of my artwork accordingly in her affectionate memory.

There are many State-sanctified psychotic belief systems. It just depends how many agree to subscribe to any particular ‘belief’ as to whether it gets labeled ‘psychotic’. If you’re in a club with only one member, the chances are you’ll be in trouble, unless you learn to shut up.

All religious or spiritual belief has an element of ‘psychosis’ about it – not that ‘psychosis’ is necessarily a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. In its original meaning the term is derived from the Greek psyche, meaning ‘soul,’ ‘mind,’ or ‘breath.’ It was regarded as the animating principle in life. From that Greek ideology came the modern hierarchy which places the spirit and the mind above matter. The poor old material world is not giving much credo, which is possibly why we care so little collectively about plundering and destroying the earth and for that matter for torturing the ‘mad’ who as a general rule tend to not like what the human race is doing to itself.

Knitting Time illustrates ‘loss’ as a guiding principle for existence and for creativity. I’ve never fitted into the world, which is no bad thing. I was taught from an early age by JWs that the world would end when I was 17 in 1975. And so I’ve spent 38 years living with a sense of mourning the ‘end’ that never came and in grief for the injustices perpetrated against my mum in the name of psychiatry. Psychiatry – like much of humanity and especially organised religion – continues to be as deluded as ever in the way it treats people.

The audio-descriptive sound installation in the  exhibition describe a selection of ten of the works including work made during our workshop programme expounding on personal stories that underpin the making of those pieces. I’ve a history since infancy of getting lost in dreams and hallucinations; of entering a world which is outside of time. Much of the art and poetry here is based on those experiences, which have often been very profound and beautiful.

At the same time as expressing a ‘spiritual’ world, seeing angels and so forth… I’m no believer in the hierarchy we’ve adopted from the early Greeks. As Antonin Artaud put it so eloquently in his essay Shit to the Spirit: “The spirit was never anything but the parasite of man, the ringworm of his worthy body when the body was no more than an animalcule swimming around and having no desire to be worthy of existing.”

And therein lies the dilemma of who we are and why we’re here? Knitting Time is a piece of my dealing with that conundrum.

I hope you find the exhibition thought-provoking and would love to hear your thoughts on these concerns.

About Knitting Time: art and poetry on the theme of psychosis

'Knitting Time: a journey through loss' is a poetry and visual arts project reflecting on the theme of art and psychosis. A book and exhibition of the work is due to be launched at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex on 10 October 2013 to celebrate World Mental Health Day. During this research and development phase I want to gather responses, thoughts, recollections and comments, so please fill in my surveymonkey at and add your let me know what you think? Or feel free to email me via knitting-time [at]
This entry was posted in Antonin Artaud, art, mental health, mythology, Poetry, psychology, psychosis and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Knitting Time is finally on the horizon

  1. Michael says:

    Thank you for posting your art and writings. I take comfort that I’m not alone. The little things in life seem all that much harder with the rumination that goes on in my mind. I’ve long left the religious tradition which with I was brought up. It may have served a purpose in the past but is unhelpful in most of its present forms. Your statement that societally accepted religious experiences share features with clinical psychosis may be true in that both lack insight about the surrounding reality. But what struck me are narratives in your blog that raise the possibility that some aspects of what is called psychosis can be adaptive, at least for some. Somehow when I pray, I have a distinct sense of being listened to. I am not sure if that grew out of religious indoctrination as my partner was brought up in the same tradition (and still finds it helpful) has no sense of that at all. Perhaps my sense was borne out of loneliness that grew from the need to stay hidden in childhood. What you’ve shared has cast new meaning and light on it. And I’m grateful for that.

    • Dear Michael I appreciate your honest response. I think a lot of psychosis comes out of a sense of being ‘split’. When expectations of who we are at birth are shrouded in trauma of one sort or another then this can have a devastating effect on who we feel ourselves to be. We can become locked within ourselves and succumb to a terrible loneliness. Nature or god can help to alleviate that sense of aloneness.

  2. Diana Reno says:


  3. Peter says:

    knitting time is wonderfully unique – it is beautifully painful – I think it is the best work you have ever produced.

  4. Kev says:

    ‘Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.

  5. Anthony says:

    Yes Colin, I was just thinking it is as simple as ‘they do not believe me’. I’m cautious, as you know of what I say of religion, but see your point. I enjoyed Artaud (who I’d heard of but do not know) very much, partly made me think of Heidegger’s ‘What is metaphysics’ but he is saying more than apprehending this otherness I think. Had I read this I’m not sure I’d have dared write that recent poem.
    Best wishes for this week, Tony

    • Thanks Anthony
      Yes, it is as simple as ‘they do not believe me’. The difficulties arise when you can’t listen to the fact that others don’t believe you. If you can’t catch on to the bigger picture you can get enmeshed in the emotions that not being believed gives rise to.

      From an early age I learnt to be a good listener because I became more than aware that no-one would believe me, because of the religious beliefs I’d been indoctrinated with.
      Artaud’s ‘Shit to the Spirit’ is a must read – as is his essay on Van Gogh.
      I’ll look out for Heidegger, thanks.
      all the best to you too

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