States of Mind


The poem below was inspired by a visit last Saturday to the States of Mind exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in Euston, which follows on from Ann Veronica Janssens’ astounding installation ‘yellowbluepink’, in which visitors entered a room to be immediately immersed in coloured fogs of such a density that all bearings of consciousness were suddenly lost: an eerie and yet very exciting experience, forcing the individual to readjust to a totally disarming environment. The secret was to keep cool, not to panic, and to feel.

The current States of Mind exhibition, which runs until 16 October, examines perspectives from artists, psychologists, philosophers and neuroscientists who question our understanding of the conscious experience. Using a whole range of media, it embraces a variety of phenomena such as somnambulism, synaesthesia, sleep paralysis, and the disorders of memory and consciousness. Ideas around the nature of consciousness are explored, and in particular, what can happen when our typical conscious experience is interrupted, damaged or undermined. Well worth a visit!


States of Mind
Where is her beauty held
         if not in my mind
her eyes her lips her hair
         her slim frame
the elegance of her hands
         her voice and her turn of phrase
the pace at which she walks
         decisive and determined
always to arrive and to depart
         and back to the darting eyes
the light that flickers there
         curiosity alive and eager
to absorb the world around her

Where is her beauty held
         if not in my thoughts
conscious and unconscious
         my feelings for her
are a state of mind
         and in that state
there are London streets
         we have walked together
held hands and kissed
         if only so fleetingly
and thoughts and impressions
         have passed loosely between us
from one to the other
         artful opinions
and points of view
         separate knowledges
and experiences that shape
          our knowingness
of each other and how we
         begin to size each other up
a tantalising tangle
         a dance of consciousnesses
two material minds
         holding and releasing arms
and twirling and reeling
         in the delight of the company

Where is her beauty held
         if not in the touch of her skin
the brush of her smile
         against my lips and captured
in the coordinates we share
         the realization that we are
neither body nor soul
         but absolutely mindmatter
we are the unity
         of sense and sensibility
such that in order to advance
         in this atomic world
we must feel our way
         through life and admit
that in love at least
         we are not two but one
and dichotomies and dualities
         be damned

John Lyons


Alice Anderson – the Midas touch

The Midas touch of Alice Anderson

Alice Anderson “Ropes”

If you haven’t seen it already, there’s still time to catch the free exhibition of sculptures by Alice Anderson at the Wellcome Collection in Euston Road, (diagonally opposite Euston Station), before it closes on 18 October.

According to the publicity handout:

Alice Anderson asks you to take a journey into memory. Displayed together for the first time is a series of sculptures which prompt you to rediscover things you thought you already knew. A computer, a record-player, sketch-books, a bicycle, even a staircase have been transformed into luminous half-recognisable shapes through a process the artist refers to as “mummification”. This process actually involves the objects being bound with very fine copper thread so that they are, theoretically preserved for all time.

The exhibition experience is broken down into a series of themed rooms. In the first room, called Studio, you are invited to contribute to a sculpture by becoming part of Anderson’s studio. Here you can participate in the transformation of a ‘naked’ object by weaving copper thread around a 1967 Ford Mustang. The space where this occurs has minimal lighting to heighten the impact of the glowing copper thread and the effect is absolutely breathtaking.


And as you move through the different spaces of the exhibition you are bombarded with a series of everyday objects similarly wrapped in the copper thread. The range of objects mummified includes a plasma tv screen, a guitar, a bicycle, keys, a telescope, a turntable, eye glasses, a smoking pipe, a telephone, coat hangers, a stethoscope, tools including screwdrivers and hammers, a basketball, a boomerang, a set of drums, ladders, shelves, geometrical shapes, and so on, and the cumulative effect is spectacular.

Two sculptures in particular caught my imagination: the first was a staircase wrapped in the luminous thread, and such was the scintillating play of light that it appeared to be a staircase to heaven. The second sculpture (illustrated at the top of the page) was a huge, twisting and turning cable of copper rope suspended from the ceiling in one room creating a beautiful abstract space that visitors are able to walk through and therefore observe the rope from every dimension.

Alice Anderson

Like with so much conceptual art, Alice Anderson is inviting us to take a fresh look at everyday objects we take for granted by reducing them to their essential shapes. However, the fact that they are bound in a glowing precious metal inevitably enhances their worth—especially given the market price of copper today—and the overall effect is as though Miss Anderson has transformed the objects into gold with her Midas touch. I would add incidentally, that it is probably no coincidence that the artist’s own hair is copper-coloured. Make of that what you will!

Alice Anderson lives and works in London. She studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux- Arts de Paris and at Goldsmiths College London. See

Never been to the Wellcome Collection? If that’s the case, make a note. It’s a fabulous exhibition space, and the museum’s permanent collection is full of informative displays. The building itself is worth a drop-in visit, and on the day I was there the cafeteria and bookshop were buzzing. On top of all this, the venue has a broad programme of events embracing the arts and sciences, the majority of which are free. Details available from