One of the problems/benefits of being who I am and doing what I do is that it effects the way I think about everything. Every space turns into a floor plan in my mind and every city becomes a scale model to pick up and turn over in my hands. I dream in exploded axonometric cross sections. Well, the ones that don’t involve naked girls at least.
A few weeks ago I took a trip during my lunch break to the gallery in the city and saw an exhibition called Artworks in Mental Health (warning: crap web site). I’ve been planning to do a write up of some of the galleries I’ve been to lately, but as yet I haven’t had time. There was an experience within an experience however, that deserved a mini write up of its own.
There was poetry and prose on display as well as painting and sculpture. All the work was by people who had either first or second hand experience of mental illness. In the foyer you could buy a book of the writing deemed worthy of inclusion by the guy who can’t find anything to rhyme with Wilkinson; I paid my £3 and read it on the tram on the way home a couple of nights ago. There’s some good work, although it gets a little bleak by the time you’ve got about two thirds of the way through. The piece that had the biggest impression on me wasn’t singled out for its poetic quality though, rather for its effect on me when I misunderstood it on the first reading. Each piece had a short explanation by the author but with this one I chose to read the poetry first.
I’ve typed out the poem below. When you read and think about the word form, try to put all thoughts of sheets of paper to be filled in with a pen out of your mind and concentrate on form as shape, object or space.
A Special Form to Fill In by David Bateman
Good news: here is a special form to fill in.
All of your problems
will be solved at once.
However, please note
the form is very big, very complicated.
It will take you some while to fill in.
There are many details
you will need to check
and then to re-check;
questions over which you will agonize
lest you should spoil the form and have to start again.
It will find you brooding
in every dawn.
I think I’ll add this to my growing list of possible answers to a question I often get asked; Why does it take so long to study architecture? After all, it’s only building stuff innit?.
I should be careful not to do the author an injustice, its potential for ambiguity is poetic quality in itself.