Unlocked Writing Workshop

August 6th


We are well prepared for the first Unlocked Writing Workshop. Pat and I have made cakes and we’ve written copious notes. Anwyl brings strawberries. We sit round the large oak table usually weighed down with books below the photos of Victorian patients. There are ten of us – several volunteers from the museum itself and some artists new to the museum, an interesting mix. Pat and I have put together a series of exercises, some short and punchy to get things going and some longer with more time to observe, describe and reflect. One thing that strikes me when we share what we have written is that hearing everyone’s written descriptions of the cabinets is as exciting as looking at the artefacts themselves, sometimes more so. Something profound happens in the translation from looking to word. We write, read out and discuss. We had wanted to consider and talk about the assumptions that we bring to the place and at times the volunteers explain the background to contextualise some of the objects and photos that we’ve been looking at. Everyone here has brought their own histories and associations as well their own different writing styles. We collaborate to write a poem, each writing a line and then playing with the order to see what comes out.

Allowing myself the luxury of space travel

Colours shining, shimmering on white paper

Irrational thoughts

Out of darkness comes forth sweetness

Can it?

The organ sleeps

Its echoing voice silent

In the dim light

The patient act

Of being a patient

Held involuntarily

Stored in a cool dark place

There is so much noise here

The blast and tremor of the organ

Here are the keys to understanding

First stop to unlock


We seem to have arrived in the wrong section