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17 July 2020

Exploring Lockdown Dreams

DreamsID (dreams illustrated and discussed) is an art science collaboration in which psychologist mark blagrove discusses the dream of an individual while artist julia lockheart paints the dream onto pages taken from freud’s book the interpretation of dreams. these performances take place with an interactive audience as dream salons.

Due to reports of people dreaming more vividly during lockdown, we decided to start holding our dream salons online, with dreamers participating by Skype and the audience seeing, hearing and engaging with the process through Facebook Live. The following dreams and events occurred from March to June 2020.


At the start of Lockdown Mark Blagrove had a dream, summarised here:

I revolve at a doorway. My wife gives me a present, a box with a clear plastic top. Inside there are novelty activities, including a table tennis set with green bats. There is also an old black mobile phone, with the words ‘Funeral Preparation Kit’. The kit is partly a joke rather than being serious.

D1Corona

On the day before the dream Mark had heard of a distant acquaintance who had died from Covid-19. As Mark only vaguely knew the person, the death was only a little unsettling, but this occurrence did show that Covid-19 was real and deadly.

Julia: I structured the narrative and painting into five paragraphs from two of Freud’s pages: Mark’s revolving on the threshold (Black); the box left on the classroom table (White); the wife (Dark clothes and white background); the present split into two (Green, silver, black and white). Words that jumped out of Freud’s text related to the present, which has two meanings.                  

We decided to have dreams shared by health and other key workers. Our first online dream sharer was Libby, a National Health Service (NHS) nurse who had Covid-19 and was recovering at home, quarantined separately from her family.

Through the open door of a house I see dangerous trees with strange leaves. I cannot close the door as it is so large. Inside, there is a party. Everyone ignores me and my warnings. A man in red trousers, a composite of all loves of my life, looks at me, indicating not to worry.  Adjoining is a room with a dead man on a bed, an old ventilator, and my recently deceased mother, alive, with a cat sitting on her. The cat jumps onto my mouth, stopping me breathing.

D2Libby

Mark: Libby described her difficulties breathing due to Covid-19. She said how during the Lockdown people are being divided between those at home drinking wine and those who need to go out to work.

Julia: I used seven paragraphs from Freud’s book, woven together with the branches of trees over two pages, and including Freud’s words ‘branches off to the other branch’. There is a dark broodingly eerie feel to the image. I incorporated many of Freud’s words which take on a living meaning beyond his original text: in reference to the red-trousered man, 'My beloved is mine, turn again to me my beloved..', in reference to her quarantine, 'sweet dove, already you are enclosed in my cavern', and on the bottom half of the painting there are many medical references.


Dream of Elaine, a NHS clinical lab doctor.

I am at my desk in the hospital, a purple woollen blanket is on my lap. With blue medical gloves I am peeling quails’ eggs, to be used to treat Covid-19 patients. But the eggs are soft and egg yolk spills and covers me and the blanket. The phone rings, I am asked questions about the eggs. More eggs are being heated in a white medical bath.

D3

Mark: Elaine said that the purple blanket is actually at her home, and that she had bought chocolate quails’ eggs as a gift for her husband. We discussed the developing blurred relationship between work and home during Lockdown. Elaine also discussed the pressure on her and other NHS workers regarding treating Covid-19.

Julia: There are four paragraphs used in this dream. These hold: the quails’ eggs in their box, the dreamer at her desk, her hands with blue medical gloves shelling the eggs, and the eggs splitting open. The following interwoven phrases in Freud’s text are fitting to the dream: I may feel / disgusting situation / on the other hand / and sometimes delighted / dream-problem


Dream of Mason, a US delivery driver keyworker, who had recently stopped his delivery job so as to relocate across the country to start work elsewhere.

I am trying to drive a brown Mazda Miata up the incline from a suburban house garage into the road but the gears keep crashing. The car moves backwards and hits the white garage door. A man and a woman in an old white car look at me almost with disgust. I feel embarrassed, as I was not being able to drive, even though it is my job.

D4

Mark: Mason said that he would not choose that type or colour of car in waking life. We discussed that the dream, with the UPS-style brown colour, was linked to delivery work and to a lack of control.

Julia: I chose two pages with four distinct paragraphs to encapsulate this dream. The composition has a sense of warp: the brown car trying to move up the hill, and weft: the white garage doors that it smashes into and the busy road which crosses in front of the driveway. The two judgemental onlookers watch from their white van. Eerily appropriate words come together in the road: manifest dream of another mistake / stubbornly they look / overlook the distinction / judgement / efforts to perform the task / familiar


Dream of Tom, a London based Doctor, who had been graduated early from medical school so as to go directly onto the Covid-19 wards.  

I walk with my partner and a boy, who is my son, through olive trees, and onto a sunny, sandy beach. We find a place to live in the cliffs, a comfortable cave with a TV, purple bedding on the double bed, and paintings on the wall. A castle is above the cliffs.  But the beach starts to become full of holidaymakers. Security guards in yellow high visibility jackets arrive and the beach loses all its charm.

D5

Mark: The dream has a theme of becoming more responsible, just as Tom had taken on responsibilities in waking life. In waking life he has no children, but the boy in the dream is his son. We realised the cave is based on a pub built into a cliff, in Tom’s university town.

Julia: I wanted to show a journey on one page and height on the other, so I chose two large paragraphs with two smaller ones at opposing ends of each page. This allowed a mirroring night/day, sky/earth, beach/sea, high/low, inside/outside effect. The following words are incorporated: The girl / wife / girl had / him and / together / the two / dream


Dream of Chloe, a Scottish teacher, whose husband and daughter are both key workers.

I am watching a robin inside a person, possibly inside me. The robin was picking with its beak and feet at black, tar-like Covid-19, all around the lungs, moving it into a pile, so as to remove it. It was also looking for small worms to feed itself.

D6

Mark: Chloe spoke of seeing robins on her country walks during Lockdown, these being a sign that life and the natural world continues, and even flourishes, despite Covid-19. The dream is a very physical picture of the healing we get from seeing nature during Lockdown. The robin was also taking care of itself, by looking for worms to eat. This was a very life-affirming dream.

Julia: I chose bullet pointed paragraphs to form the ribs or chamber surrounding the lungs. There were two sides to the dream: one where the robin clears the tar-like Covid-19 from the lungs, and the other where Chloe sits watching, inside the dark red chamber. The following words of Freud are incorporated: under treatment / continuing the treatment / plant / flowers / friends of mine


Details of our live and online Dream Salons can be found at DreamsID.com and at Facebook 

Watch the following videos of the above paintings being created, and of the online discussions.

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