When I Open My Eyes

An account of a three year arts and health project involving surgeries in Cumbria and Northumberland with dancer/choreographer Tim Rubidge and writer/psychotherapist Brenda Mallon. This booklet is available through this website by contacting Miranda.


Michael Wilson "Health is for the People 1975 “....factors which make for health are concerned with a sense of personal and social identity, human worth, participation in the making of political decisions, celebration and responsiblity. The language of science alone is insufficient to describe health; the language of poetry; myth and story also disclose its truth” quoted from Mike White CAHHM Addressing and Identifying Health Needs through the Arts Autumn 2001


"The most authentic thing about us
Is our capacity to create, to overcome
To endure, to transform, to love
And to be greater than our suffering.
We are best defined by the mystery
That we are still here, and can still rise

Ben Okri Mental Fight




Getting to know the body .... the language of sensation and movement

A doctor who supportd our work spoke of the body becoming the enemy when we are ill, some'thing' that has let us down. We hoped our workshops would help those who came to get to know their physical bodies as a vital aspect of who we are. We wanted the sessions to be fun as well as informative, an imaginative workshop approach to the body.

Through both stillness, relaxation and movement improvisations to discover forgotten or neglected parts - and the creative resources to reimagine life situations.

dance of the frozen policeman...dance of the beekeeper...wheel chair horse dance.....dance of new land......wicked wolf dance......

We saw our role as dancers as supporting participants to listen to and follow the subtle and suprising world of body, and the stories, memories and images that surface as we venture into moving. It is often difficult to express or speak of what we are feeling. The intention of the project wasto find ways for each person to recover voice and heart, to be artist rather than patient in their lives.

movement as communication.... as listening ....as story.....as play....
and as exploration with others.....of who and how we are

“I think the other thing is that when you are working with limited materials it’s almost another way of living your life because that’s what you do with your life, you work with limited materials, and they may not look very promising. You have to look at them in a different way - turn them upside down -turn them sideways and make the best of what you’ve got in the old fashioned tradition... You not only amaze yourself with what you are doing, but you are amazed with your results - things do change.”

6. A Cast of Characters
‘On the seashore of endless worlds, children play.’
In getting to know ourselves through movement, imagining and making, so we got to know the many characters in our make up. Individually and as a group, a whole cast emerged. In the following extracts participants reveal some of the figures who visited.

Keith: “This little bloke I see as myself in another aspect... and he was my mate when I did a castaway island (session of making a ‘place to rest in’) in that corner. I think it is the best position for viewing life (upside down) _ I really like him... I did quite surprise myself - I am no way an artist but two or three of my pictures came out quite well and considering it is 55 years since I attempted it pictorially it is quite an achievement in my life. I think when we were given a choice of pieces, shells, stones I made myself a cosy little corner, like a fellow on a desert island, like a castaway - I was quite happy with that - with various things on my mat - it was all very different......What this image said to me is ‘...won't you step into it and make it complete?’.... I called it cosmos - I am a cosmos - not a big one - just a micro cosmos really - probably very like you as well - where do I live? In the actual centre of the world - my world... I am responsible for myself and of course the cosmos too - it is all me really - I float and rotate you know - you could say I live in a world where there is hardly time for anything - so cycling round check points is the best way of covering the world - come to think of it I’d better get on my bike now to meet you in your cosmos !”

I had this broomstick through my arms and straw sticking out the ends - I remember knocking everybody over - I couldn't have a drink - someone had to help me - and it sort of brought it back - I've always had very little self image of myself and would never have dreamt of dressing up other than something being funny - and that perhaps learn to be who I am and not being something else.”
I wrote down
A scarecrow in the Wind
A scarecrow in the wind
Inviting everyone in.
A robin on my shoulder
Forever growing bolder.
I am not a pretty sight
But neither am I a fright.
I’ve got my place among the flowers.
I’m supposed to have preventative powers,
But that is not who I am,
That is just a scam.
All I want to do
Is dancing in the wind
And this is my way in.