I leave a room by revolving so as to get past a strap on the doorway. I go down a corridor to see my wife. She is in the next room and has a present for me on the table, a box about 30x60cm, and about 5cm thick with a clear plastic top. It has various novelties and small activities in it. In the middle is a table tennis set with green bats. On one side in the box there is an old black mobile phone, with a few other small components, and the words Funeral Preparation Kit. The kit is partly a joke rather than being serious.
[On the day before the dream the dreamer had heard of an acquaintance who had died in hospital, possibly with Covid-19.]
National Health Service nurse Libby Nolan, who is currently under quarantine with the virus and having breathing problems, shared online a nightmare she has been having. Her nightmare, had twice during her confinement, repeated but changed a nightmare she has had before. In this, she was looking through the open door of a house and could see strange trees with strange leaves and knew it was very dangerous outside and the danger would soon come into the house. She couldn't close the door as it was so large. Inside, she goes upstairs and to a large hall. A party was happening and everyone ignored her warnings and didn't look at her. She then saw a man with red trousers who is a composite of all past loves for her, he looked at her and knew what she was warning about, but with a smile looked at her to say without words that all was actually fine and that she should not worry. She went into a side room, which is a hospital room with a dead man on the bed and an old ventilator. Her deceased mother is there with a cat on her lap. The cat jumps onto Libby and onto her mouth and stops her breathing. Libby then woke up.
We are grateful to Libby for her dream, for sharing and discussing it, and for the work she has been doing and will return to for the health service. We thank also everyone worldwide who took part in the event, on Facebook Live.
The painting is made onto two pages taken from Freud's book The Interpretation of Dreams. Online here the viewer can enlarge the painting when looking at it, so as to see details made during the two hours that the discussion and painting took place. For example, the stairs, the trees, the man at the party with his glass of red wine. The pages were chosen by Julia when she was first hearing the dream, on the basis of the shapes of the paragraphs found in Freud's book, but during the painting process she incorporates words that happen to be on the page. Some of these do have coincidental but eerie references to Libby's dream. Such as, in the trees, in reference to Libby only being acknowledged in the dream by the one man, red-trousered, who is based on her current and former loves: 'My beloved is mine, turn again to me my beloved..', and reference to her quarantine, 'sweet dove, already you are enclosed in my cavern', and on the left page (i.e, bottom half of painting) there are many medical references.
Goldsmiths, University of London, event for Humanistic and Psychodynamic Counselling course members, 19th February 2020
Dream told at event for counselling course students. Dream of escaping a tidal wave by going to a five storey building, sitting on a bed with female friend, and feeling very guilty about hitting a goat.
Dream of being confronted by a woman in class after making inapproriate remarks with four male friends.
Details and other dreams from the event are below. This is a dream of a 60 year old, happy in the company of people in their 30s whom he admires because they care about the planet. It is a bohemian atmosphere in the room, as they get ready for a meal. Note the appropriate words that happened to be on the pages from Freud chosen for this painting, 'I am in the company' and 'The whole dreamer back to the year of revolution.' As always, the pages are chosen for the shape of the text, paragraphs and headings, specific words are spotted and incorporated during the one hour dream discussion and painting session. The highlighted words are relevant to the dream and dreamer, and provide a serendipitous link from the event now to Freud, writing the words over 100 years ago.
The prestigious Economic and Social Research Council included and funded us to be part of their 2019 Festival of Social Science. For this we were hosted at three venues, the Freud Museum London, RSA, and Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea. The Freud Museum dreams and paintings are shown here, the other venues are below.
I am on a dark moonlit country lane. I am with a man, we are holding each other and kissing. I feel happy and excited as this is new, but I also feel something is wrong. A large car drives past with a woman driving, it is his wife. He turns around, with his back to the road, pretending to urinate. He says ‘she hasn’t seen you,’ then pushes me and tells me to walk away. I walk down the dark road and the car follows me. I see a public toilet and go in the women’s side. It is cold, horrible, with a concrete floor. I go into a cubicle and can hear her footsteps, but think she must think I am only here to use the toilet. It appears that she has gone but then I hear she is in the cubicle next to me. Suddenly there is a knock on the metal cubicle door, I open it and she is there with a smartly dressed bouncer. He is smoking and stubs out his cigarette on me. I am in pain and wake up.
In my dream I wake up. I am hovering three feet above my own body, looking down on it. My friend Kiran is hovering next to me. My body looks like a shamanic representation of a body, a rather primitive drawing. It is entirely colored in a deep green blue. I am surprised, I find myself wondering at the speed of this transformation. Next moment I am standing at the top of The Meadows in Edinburgh, looking down the lovely greens. I am holding hands with Kiran, on my left. It is a bright day. Now I find myself in a large receiving hall in a castle. The room is rather bare of decoration. A large wooden table dominates the room. At the head of the table a man is sitting, it is obvious that he is the king. I am waiting on him, bringing something to drink. He looks rather tired and melancholy and I worry for his wellness. A guest arrives, it is a young man in his thirties, with pale skin and ginger hair. I walk over to the shelves on the wall and take one of the whiskey jars that fill the shelves. I think it is the jar from the area he is coming from. It is grey stoneware and has a small violet flower on it, like heather or lavender. I pour them both a cup. I am invisible in their service. Now I find myself in the shrubbery on the edge of the castle terrain and the surrounding woods. I am on a mission to fetch something from the outbuildings, which I can see ahead of me through the leaves. I have some time so I have decided to take the longer, scenic route through the woods. I am following a deer trail. Sunlight flickers through the leaves. There are small birds flying around and squirrels. I feel relaxed and happy. I am enjoying the beauty and quiet. All of a sudden I hear a small noise in front of me and I look down the path. I see a misty sprite attacking a young boy and girl who are walking down the path, hand in hand. It looks like a dragon made of water and it hovers above the ground making figures of 8 around the children. The boy has a red sweater and blue trousers, the girl’s clothes are yellow ochre. They crumble down to the ground. I am shocked, and at the same time I realize I cannot tell anyone, as they will think I did it and they will hang me. I am in no position to speak. I walk out of the woods.
I am in a room with a group of young people. One young woman, maybe Sophie, stretches out a tea-bag over a candle to give a nice smell to the room. She goes to get food, saying that she will be back and asking me to prepare the table. Rather than setting the table I see I have to build one, as there isn’t one, and I make it with clamps taken from the futon-like sofa. A young man who may be her boyfriend helps me. I am confident in building it as I have glued tables together before. The young man has the confidence of youth, I am happy with this, not fazed even if he is clever, but in a way we are competing for confidence. I am glad we are not in a hurry. I dance, left and right, twisting my feet on their heels, twisting my hips, with my arms following my body. There are others in this bohemian room, which is all natural, raw, nothing superfluous. I feel I wake up in the room, Sophie is bringing back the food. We have nearly made the table. I am about to sand and polish it with a wood colour. We might be in a house in Greece, with whitewashed walls. The other people are soft and dreamy, not as switched on as the young man and me. I have a quiet supremacy. I am older, with more knowledge and can be generous. I admire the talents of the next generation. I am sixty but admire the young people here who are in their 30s and have understanding, which fills me with confidence that the planet will be OK. It is a relaxing dream, although with some ego.
ESRC Festival of Social Science, 8th November 2019, at the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Mannufactures and Commerce)
I am responding to interview requests for marketing roles I have applied for. I am cancelling each one on the phone at short notice as I think I am not competent for each post. I was walking away from each one of them as I knew I would later lose each job if I was given it. I walk away and am next in a junkyard, which is dirty and dark, with lots of litter, surrounded by a torn wire fence with a wire gate. There is a full open tin of biscuits at the wire gate. I grab some but am stopped from getting more by a green snake sliding along the fence, protecting the tin. I am petrified, the snake is sliding [/ pacing] up and down, partially upright, on the other side of the fence, just outside the gate, staring at me. On the other side of the fence there are shrubs. I run away and am then in the family home, but it is a junkyard house, very messy, with brown linoleum, an old brown sofa and old worn furniture. There is clothes and rubbish on the floor. Even my normally tidy bedroom is messy because my sister has intentionally thrown about my clothes, so it now looks like a squat, with my basic clothes, some blues and reds, looking like rags. In the living room there is my sister, with short, curly, dark brown hair, khaki trousers and pink and red scarf, my mum, my dad, with black hair and navy blue jacket, and my other two sisters with dark longer hair. I am upset that no-one cares about the mess in my room, even though they are listening to me, and I cause a scene.
It is the morning with a red sky. I am in the school library and see at the edge of my vision a brilliant white shape, like a wolf. I can see it if I don’t directly look at it. As the day goes on I go into the school corridor, and then outside in the school courtyard, and the wolf gets darker, becoming grey. All this time I interact with others in the school, some of whom are school friends and some non-school friends, some talking, but all without movement. I am then in a field at night, very dark, with outlined, slightly swaying trees, and the wolf is now black. I hear a sharp intake of breath and feel like on a roller coaster, and I wake up.
I am in a railway siding at night. An elderly woman is there, squatting down, and she calls to me. I think she is my grandmother. I get scared and jump into the air and fly high above the earth. I realise that I am flying and feel exuberant and then travel to famous landmarks. I land on top of the Eiffel Tower, and the Pyramids, and see Mount Fuji. Then as I keep flying I suddenly see that a tree is flying with me, using its branches to fly. It looks kindly at me and I feel a sense of companionship with it when I suddenly notice that it has worms in its branches which start to eat the branches and then its body. They then notice me and reach out towards me to try to grab and eat me. I fly away from the tree as fast as I can but can feel the worms still chasing me, though I don’t look back. Just then the sun starts to rise and I start to fall towards the earth and just before I crash down I wake up.
I am watching the Glastonbury festival, and am surprised to see on the main stage my boss, who, despite her age, is dancing and doing acrobatics while singing. She is wearing a lion suit, which covers all of her body except for her face, which I can see. My work colleagues are at the front of the audience, all wearing their blue uniforms, and they greatly enjoy the performance; they were expecting to see her. For me it is like watching it on a television, I am not there and can see shots of it from different directions.
Dream from childhood of witches near our home at night, and in morning in school bus watching shop explode
Two dreams were told, discussed and painted in the lounge of the Noahs Yard cafe bar in Uplands, the buzzing cafe quarter of Swansea, which is the area where Dylan Thomas was born. With wonderful audience participation for this evening event!
I am driving on a motorway or American freeway, with lots of lanes. All is grey. My daughter is in the passenger seat on the left. There is a grey bridge ahead and under it the road is blocked by some cars. I stop before getting to them and get out of my car, going round to the passenger side. There is a group of young men, who are from Swansea. One man sprays petrol on my car, and strikes a match to set fire to it. I try to stop him, saying he will kill my daughter. They say they are doing this as she wouldn’t go out with one of them, or be friends.
I am on the slope of a hillside looking down on trees. I see some water on the right and walk towards it and realise it is a brightly shining railway line. Walking down the slope I see lots of people and they ask questions to me out loud. People are looking at me for my reaction, it is a challenge that will be on a TV programme. I have to choose if it is to be this challenge in the woodland. I see my friend Jayne, a friend from when I was three, and consult her on the decision. I say that ‘at last I get to work with you on this, we will work here,’ and I accept the challenge. I then run back up the bank, and to stop myself falling backwards I grip the bottom of a small white window frame. Through it I can see a steep drop and at the bottom another railway line. I am then lying in bed in what feels like my brother’s old bedroom. I put a triangle of pillows behind me, making a V-shape, so I can lie back upright. On the wall there is a large incomplete illustration in pencil of two women. I want to draw them, copying it, and am concentrating on doing the details of the arm and hands.
Dream of holding brother who has been killed by a car while walking in a winding country lane - Artwork delivered to dreamer October 2019 (painting details at April 2019 below)
Telephone call with a relative, a family death-related dream, completed artwork delivered to dreamer August 2019
I was in this place made of wood and someone was lifting slats up and down like a press. There was a little boy named Jamie. He must be about 30 now. I haven’t seen him for years. I looked around and my sister, Kay, was in the corner calling me, and when I went over she said, “Don’t worry it’s not what you think”. I told her to wait and I tried to call my two nieces on the telephone, but there was no answer and then I called my elder sister, Wendy, and she said she’d come. She walked into the place and said, “I hope this isn’t a wild goose chase because I’ve just crashed my car in the high street and there’s a long tail back”. She had a beautiful blue dress on, her nails were also painted blue, her hair was lovely, and she was smoking a cigarette. I pointed to Kay in the corner and Wendy walked over to her. That was when I woke up.
I dreamt of a colleague who had died the week before. I am at his funeral. It is a shadowy day. I am walking into the crematorium, which has dark wooden panelled walls. I am shocked to see him there. He is standing against something, with beige shorts and a white shirt, chilled out clothes, and legs crossed. There is light behind him from a window. I ask him ‘is this you, are you really here?’ He says ‘yes, I am really here.’ I prod his arm to see if he is really here. I am checking what is real and what isn’t. I then ask him if he was in my dream last week, just after he had died, in which he was grinning, and saying goodbye to me. He was letting me know that he was happy, feeling free, and that he wasn’t wearing a mask anymore. We gave each other a hug in that dream; I was happy for him but also sad. At the funeral, with a cheeky grin, like he knows more than I do, he says ‘yes, that was me.’ He is watching what is going on, and looks cocky and happy. The dream then shifts to me weeing on a toilet. I have a feeling from him of asking ‘what is real and what is not real?’ I then wake up and go to the bathroom.
The Netherlands, 36th conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, 25th June 2019
We show here the finished artwork for a dream told at this conference, of the dreamer communicating with a dolphin, but the dolphin not understanding a wheat field, the harvest and seasons. Our finished artworks all have this format, with mounting board of appropriate colour. The original painting, and text of the dream, are at the bottom of this post, below the finished artwork.
The society of the dolphins, below water, want to ameliorate the communication between dolphins and humans. They have for many years been training below the sea to imitate human sounds and language, and have sent their best imitator and speaker to come to the land. They come to me because I am an engineer specialised in electronics and acoustics, and can translate their speech of a series of rapid acute sounds. I meet him. He has learnt to walk upright on his tail, but is unsteady. I say ‘namaste’. I know that dolphins see the sun when they stick their heads above water, and so I point to the sun as I say the word ‘sun’ in English, and ‘sol’ in Danish, the dolphin imitates me and says ‘sun’ with his thick lips. I then proceed with numbers. I put up one finger and the clever dolphin nods once, I put up two fingers and the dolphin nods twice. I know we understand each other. I am proud that I am the first human to speak to a dolphin, the first human being to speak to another species. The dolphin then points to a harvested wheat field and asks what it is. I try to explain about plants, and about the wheat field growing, and then the harvest and withering away and change of seasons. But he can’t understand as these do not occur under the water. Nevertheless, I am content that we have communicated about numbers and a natural element, the sun.
I am standing in a corridor, with my back to one wall, the wall opposite isn’t there. I am wearing a waterproof blue kagool, which I know I don’t own. My head is bowed, I have longer hair than now. There is a locked black security gate behind me, I know it is the entrance to my own flat, but in the dream it is like a portcullis of a medieval castle. I am distressed, what have I done? I have left my flat by choice, I know I haven’t been evicted, but I can’t go back and can’t change my mind. I am frightened. There are no people in the corridor but I hear two voices, both women. One says “you’ll have the flat for life, you’ll die there, if you want to.” The other is performing as a fortune teller, reading palms; when it is my turn she is agitated, saying “no, I don’t want to say.” I have feelings of dread. I am then sitting on a beach in just swimming trunks. My torso is nut brown, but my legs are pasty white. I have hair to my waist, and a beard and moustache. There is nobody else there. I swim out to sea, all is gentle but when I look round I can’t see the shore. As it is a cove I know that if I swim in one direction I will likely meet land, and so I choose a direction and do then get to land, but maybe a mile from my clothes, which are just blue jeans. When I find these I pick them up but don’t put them on, and then wander back to my tent.
I am flying over terrain, rivers and roads, and come down in Islamabad. I am outside a hospital and can see huge black crows in the dry grass of the hospital grounds. The hospital has smooth cement walls outside and inside. I am then in a hospital room, which is dark and cool. It has a metal framed bed but nothing else, no decor or equipment. I am watching a woman in the room. She has a long shawl covering her faceless body, like a ghoul. She goes into the bathroom. Just another smaller room, and without a window to see the crows lurking. It has very little light. There is an old squat toilet, a stool for bathing, and a bucket for a bath. Somehow, I know it is my mother’s aunt. She doesn’t make it back to the hospital bed, she dies in the bathroom. I know the water she poured on her body was killing her. I don’t see any fear or pain. Just an ending.
I am in my grandmother’s white bedroom. There is a small, fluffy, brown-furred dog, two months old, with long ears. His mother is there, and his five or six siblings, which are growing, but the small dog is the size of my hand and doesn’t grow. I choose this dog because it looks weak. I feel mutual emotional attachment between me and the dog. I am worried about his health and so I put it into a small black cosmetics bag and carry him with me all the time. I am then with other people in a large white, empty, bright gaming room, where we are fighting colourful cartoon-style zombies, which are clown-like and not scary. One of the zombies is purple, there are two zombies but I am expecting more to come out. The weapons in the room look like children’s toys, and sticks. With a toy gun one person shoots a powder at a zombie, which dissolves. I don’t take any weapons, I just want to make sure that the dog is OK. I open the bag and feel that the dog’s body is cold. I think he has died and I am sad. But after a few seconds his body becomes warm and he starts to move and I am relieved.
Sleep and Memory conference, Paris Institute for Advanced Study, 6-7th June 2019. Dream of organising two operations for my brother
I am in a hospital in a city in Switzerland. I have arranged for my brother to have two operations, at separate hospitals. He has travelled to the city so as to have both operations in one day. The first is on his mouth and throat. I am then waiting at the second hospital. I am in a room with the doctors. My brother phones me and says that he cannot make the second operation. I realise that a person can’t be intubated twice in one day. I am annoyed with myself for organising so much for him to do.
Painting made as part of BBC World Service programme on dreaming, broadcast April 2019. Presenter's dream of brother dying due to being hit by a car
'I am at my parents’ large, reddish, Victorian house, our family home, which is at the edge of a village. It is a Spring afternoon, with a blue sky. My second youngest brother, aged about 17, is walking up the narrow lane by the house. It is a twisting, turning lane, which cars often whizz along. The lane has green trees and fields on both sides, and steep, brown, earth banks, 12 – 15 foot high, like a gully, so there is nowhere to escape. I have a sense that he has been hit by a car. I leave the house, run down the side steps, and run down the lane to find him. I see him, dead, covered in blood, with limbs at odd, irregular angles. Blood is on the tarmac. I hug him.'
The BBC film of the painting being made can be seen here.
Dream of being pulled out of my sleeping body, meeting my late mother who takes me through a door to an adventure.
Very happy today to have completed and handed over, to the dreamer and family, the artwork capturing the Rowing Boat, Canal Boat and Large Boat dream, which was shared with us at the 2nd Swansea Science Festival. We are very grateful to the couple who shared and discussed it with us! It was a lovely dream.
Dream of a crocodile under the water and a snake
Dream of a haunted house
Dream of redecorating a dilapidated dowdy house (and, below, the mounted artwork and dream text)
At the beach, warning mother and sister of a dangerous sea-serpent
Elongated car dream
Partner says jump into sea, then together on canal boat
Dream of walking in long offices with red Morse code on walls
For the Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Sciences we held two events, this one was at the Glynn Vivian art gallery, Swansea. The dream was of a virtual reality research centre, the dreamer flew up in the VR above the research centre and above the shoreline and cliffs which were next to the centre. A male and a female researcher described the VR programme as aiming to cause elation and positive emotions.
As part of a three day celebration of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein we held a DreamsID event at Taliesin Create, part of Swansea University, with invitations to discuss nightmares and dreams and have them painted.
Nightmare of teddy bear whose arms become tendrils that strangle the dreamer, dreamer runs out of house and sees silhouette of man inside the house.
We also had a very positive dream told to us: "Car, motorcycle and ballerina dream."
"I am in the back seat of a car, relaxed. Suddenly I am shocked to realise that no-one is driving and I have to take over steering by reaching over from the back. I can’t get to the pedals and I fear for myself and for others for what might happen, even though no-one else is around outside. But I don’t crash, I sense I manage the situation.
"I am next on a beautiful large black and chrome or gold motorcycle, like a Harley-Davidson or Triumph. I am wearing one-piece feminine black leathers, like cat woman. I am riding the bike fast, it is very large and I am astride it, leaning forward, no helmet. It feels fantastic, and not out of control. It is great, I feel a powerful woman.
"I am then outside, I am a ballerina, pirouetting, beautiful, in a classical and pale pink leotard, with pale pink tights and pink ballet shoes. I do a high floating twirl, very graceful, like a musical box ballerina. I am very pleased with myself."
Dr Julia Lockheart