Small Town Inertia

Documentary & Portraits by J A Mortram

Market Town : Tilney1 : Nor crystal tears


“Remember the demo, little hearts everywhere. Fly over that road and tranquilize me out of existence.”

Tilney1’s day to day life is unchanged since our last meeting. Still the same trials of his Schizotypal and Obsessive Compulsive disorders to face, the stresses of his apartment block and the ever present loneliness. His ebullience however about an art project suggested by staff member Alex at the Under 1 Roof drop in centre was both overwhelming and infectious.

A plastic bag filled with pieces of jigsaw was laid upon the floor and Tilney1 was sorting them into a pile picture face down. He’d been inspired to write on the reverse side all his strings of memory and observations of his life and culture. I was fascinated. This process of creating work, new to Tilney1 seemed to echo so perfectly his own state of mind. Like a mirror smashed, a million fragments each with a moment, memory endlessly reflecting. Though now existing outside the continuity, safety and structure of its uniform self all fragments in this new state were still functioning. Tilney1’s is a constant state of sifting through these pieces, ever searching for a way to reassemble the scattered shards.

It was also the day of the bi-monthly visit by his C.P.N (Community Psychiatric Nurse) who would administer Tilney1’s injections of medication (Risperdal Consta) and check up on his general state of mind and well being. These visits are somewhat bitter sweet as Tilney1 loves talking with his C.P.N though the injections of medication he hates.


Tilney1’s C.P.N preparing his injection of medication.

Over the years I’ve known Tilney1 I’ve become accustomed to both his flashes of creativity and also the highly introspective lulls. I’ve witnessed his ebbs and flows. The tidal nature of his personality rushing forth and receding. After a time these layers of repeated mantras of memories took hold, gained form and have become less abstract. The repeated names, sentences, places and fragments of conversations took shape. A structure. Like the jigsaw Tilney1 was using to construct his latest artwork I saw there was a way to place the jigsaw his life together. He was handing all the pieces to me, one by one by one.


Reading through his scrolls of writing.

“When I went up to Hellesdon (In-patient Mental Hospital) I took my scrolls of writing and my art work and I showed it to them and they didn’t say I was totally crazy. My nurse said she was not prepared to talk to me about predicting Barack Obama being President or Princess Diana’s death she just said “We need to change your medication to suit your mood.” and shook my hand before I left. That really made me feel better that someone who is a trained nurse shook my hand.”


Enthusing about his weekly visit to Under 1 Roof.

Under 1 Roof I love and I look forwards to all week even if it’s just for two hours. People involved with art are always such an inspiration to me. Under 1 Roof is there to help people with severe mental illness but for me I always consider myself a unique and interesting person rather than someone with a severe mental illness.”


Beginning to construct his latest artwork.

“After I’d shown her all my work about swirling memories Alex suggested working upon a jigsaw. It’s everything connected in music and culture. Some of its about me and my obsessions. The more I do with my artwork the more I link everything together. She told me to do a jigsaw and when they all joined together they all become one.”


“I draw abstract diagrams, words and phrases and I get all my inspiration from my incredible memory.”


Reflecting upon a memory and it’s relation to the many others within the puzzle.

“There’s always words going through my head. I can remember everything that was said at every work place through my life. Conversations I had 30 years ago I can remember going through my head. Can you imagine what it did to me working nights in a supermarket for 13 years?.”



“As soon as I got there I looked round and thought to myself “What’ is this going to do to me, being in a Mental Hospital?.” They asked me if I smoked and I said “No.” I’d given up. Now look at me I smoke endlessly. There were benches all around the place, a TV and a stereo, a place where you have your meals and that and all the beds.”

“I was in there for about a month. I slept in a room by myself or sometimes in a room with other people. I remember one woman shouting “I don’t want to be standing here like a caged animal!.” then I shouted “Does the world know what we are talking about yet?”.”


Deep in thought, searching the next memory to relay.

“I find it difficult to express myself when I talk to people but with my artwork I don’t have any problems I just love my artwork.”


“I should have left Tesco’s as soon as I got my diagnosis. I was just being too nice. My parents being too conservative but I’ll always love my Mum. I just should have left Tesco’s sooner. I went through all that just because I could not bring myself to resign from Tesco’s.”


The final piece.


The puzzle.


Books play a huge part in Tilney1’s life. Passages memorized, their texts often dissected to discover the elements that reflect and resonate with his own views and thoughts. He is often inexorably bound to them.

“The thing about who the fuck are you and what the fuck have you achieved… the last line in Nor Crystal tears is “And there was another benefit one Ryo had not considered, one he had not thought much about during the last busy exciting ten years. The realization came as a shock. He found something useful to do with his life after all”.”

“The ten years, well that’s the ten years I lost due to being given the wrong medication and dosage and the realization that’s my discovering art as it means I have something useful to do with my life too.”


Exhaustion after completing the artwork.

“I don’t like injections. I think that’s a poem in itself. After going through all those years of hell, just laying in bed. A lot of my work is beautiful, not depressing. If I had not been lonely, none of my works would have happened.”


What was life like before TV?

Shadow puppets on the wall of course.

Noticing a window like a neon TV screen.

These are not psychotic interludes they are beauty.

Storm clouds and snow raging over her house.

The flowers on my balcony shout down.

A peaceful person living within a stressful environment,

Surrounded by memories but the four walls of my empire remain,

Hoarding culture.

A protection against my neighbors.


Cold front coming through,

You could feel it,

Something terrible was going to happen.

There was sanity as well.

Noticing the beauty of the changing of the seasons and the colours of the Autumn trees.

However you still could not stop it,

It was inevitable.

On my prairie where there were no trees just desolation,

She faced up to the truth.

by Tilney1 2012

You can see more of Tilney1 and his work here.

Under 1 Roof: Training and development centre.


  • javi

    September 25, 2012 at 11:06 am → Reply

    Last two poems are really beautiful. They remind me of the beat generation, a bit of James Joyce too and Sonic Youth’s lyrics. The idea of the puzzle is so good, it just represents everything. Among all you’ve written about Tilney1 this is what i like best.There are things i won’t never be able to understand.. why are there so many people out there doing rubbish and still, they get so much attention? It surprises me, no one had left a comment on this before me… nor on many Tilney1’s works I’ve seen in his flickr account…It’s kinda desperating, kinda frustrating..Best to you both, Tilney1 and Jim

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Market Town : Tilney1 : Nor crystal tears