Small Town Inertia

Documentary & Portraits by J A Mortram

Market Town : Tilney1 : The pornography of despair & the ideas of reference


How to fight the loneliness? How to fight the medication? How to fight the diagnosis? How to fight who you are and who you might not be?

Tilney1 will spontaneously break into a monologue, an often repeated spoken mantra of self reflection “I am the greatest artist in the county and beyond!” he’ll ebulliently exclaim. Imprisoned behind the rush of cyclic memories coupled with ideas of reference (From notes defining the symptoms of Tilney1’s diagnosis: Invasive beliefs or perceptions that irrelevant, unrelated or innocuous phenomena in the world refer to him directly or have special personal significance) there is no tenderness for Tilney1 from any understanding other, no soothing whispers, no one that has the key to unlock him from this exile. These oft repeated proclamations are shockwaves of his illness.


Tilney1 in his apartment trapped in thought.

From notes defining the symptoms of Tilney1’s diagnosis: “Occasional transient quasi-psychotic episodes with intense illusions, auditory or other hallucinations and delusion-like ideas plus the inability to initiate or maintain relationships”. These are possibly the cruelest of the myriad of symptoms brought forth by Tilney1’s condition.

What is real for Tilney1? How many of the punishing memories he endures have their foundation in reality and how many in delusion? What is the truth of his own self? These are questions he asks and endures endlessly. On loop. Everything on loop and repeat.


‘Racist Daily Mail from the fanzine ‘Red Neck Land’ Tilney1 2012

The one irrevocable truth is his passion for self expression through art and poetry. Creativity is Tilney1’s salvation. Though prolific with output when watching Tilney1 work there’s a impressive sensation of the toll birthing the works takes from within him, the internal navigations required, the pain of re-living events then at the point of conclusion the exhaustion and unashamed joy.

The joy manifests itself in multiple ways, accomplishment, a resurgence of self belief but also it’s his lighthouse sending a beam out for the world to navigate ever closer. Maybe someone will finally see that he is a person alive with feelings, aspirations, desires, hopes, wishes, dreams and through their experience of his artworks maybe someone will see he exists.


Tilney1 lives for his moments of artistic release and longs for an artistic life. Under 1 Roof is a two hour respite, a safe harbour. Though it’s often difficult to interact with the other group members it’s always evident the enthusiasm and support of the art instructors at Under 1 Roof is invaluable.


Tilney1 at Under 1 Roof

“There’s nowhere to go in Market Town. The Florin, The plough are hellholes. Everywhere is a hellhole when you’re on your own. However I love art and art teachers. Under 1 Roof is such a help. My teacher Alex tunes directly in to my thoughts, creativity and comes up with great ideas for how I can make more work.”


The completed Puzzle‘.


Working in isolation in his apartment.

“Working at home is something I am compelled to do. It sets me free from my loneliness. Everything around me in this apartment block intimidates me. The people here see me as a freak but the craziness, violence and attitudes that goes on here has me seeing them as the real freaks. I live in this apartment alone and there is a such a great boredom. I need to be doing artwork all the time. It’s the one good thing in my life. It is my life.”


‘Unkle/Uncle’ Tilney1 2012 from the fanzine ‘Red Neck Land’


Completing the arrangement of his work upon the apartment wall.





“When I complete an artwork I feel a release. I’ve turned all my thoughts into my art, my mind on paper, in drawings, in words. It allows me my own insights into my illness and a format to hopefully express and share this with the outside world. I want these works to mean something to someone. I want to mean something to someone.”


“I gave up smoking before I was sectioned. Then in the hospital someone there with a severe mental illness offered me a cigarette saying ‘You obviously have problems like me.’ Now I smoke all the time so I obviously do have problems.”


‘J.B’s prophecies’ from the fanzine ‘Red Neck Land’ Tilney1 2012


Tilney1 typing out another page for his fanzine.


‘Of my life’ from the fanzine ‘Red Neck Land’ Tilney1 2012


“I have an incredible memory, I have incredible spirituality, I am an incredible artist?… I have my doubts. I’m alone all the time. Thoughts go round and round in my head. I come up with the only answers I can find but I have no one to share them with. I really look forwards to the visits and talks with my CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) every two weeks as she really listens to me.”

“I think my first diagnosis was possibly influenced by my love of culture. I think the doctor mistakenly took my passion for art, music and books as signs of obsession but for me they are the things in life I love.”

“Since I came out of hospital I just can’t stand up straight for longer than two minutes. I used to cycle everyday. I can’t do that now because I’m so tense all the time. I started to go to the gym but when I was there I caught glimpse of myself in the mirror and just thought ‘Why do I look so unhappy?’ I’m sure it’s the medication. I used to smile before the medication. I used to be happy. There’s always been a lot of sport in my family but I can’t fit in these places and situations it’s not me nor who I want to be.”

“The medication has it’s good effects, it’s said by the doctors that it stabilizes my mood and thoughts but it has it’s bad effects too. It numbs me. I stare into space for hours on end. I just want to make art. Art is my friend whilst there is no-one here. Art sets me free.”

You can see more of Tilney1 and his work here.

Under 1 Roof: Training and development centre


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Market Town : Tilney1 : The pornography of despair & the ideas of reference