Dates for Surrealist Games in Spring 2015

Spring into spring and refresh your eyes! Come with us on a Surrealist search for the marvelous in the spirit of collaborative play. Expect classics such as Exquisite Corpse and automatic writing/drawing, as well as new games such as word pop and folded poetry.

No experience required, just a sense of play.

Upcoming dates are: 17th April, 15th May and 19th June, all from 7:30-10:00pm at the Gas Gallery, Park Avenue, Aberystwyth.

Suggested donation: £3

You are invited to an evening of participatory entertainment. Come join Surrealist practitioner and poet, Mary Jacob (Rrose Sélavy) to play Surrealist parlour games in the beautiful and unique environment of the Gas Gallery.

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poem – Glitter

by Mary Jacob, first draft composed 4 January 2013

illumination 086

Streetlamps and fairy lights sparkle the crumbling facades

of this Edwardian town.

Early evening, no movement but a lone woman

crossing to the middle of the road.

She straddles the median,

braces her feet against the cobble,

sets her hip, locks elbows,

and raises a camera as steady as it can be

for a slow shutter speed.

She presses the button, squints, fiddles,

presses again. Everything presses –

feet on the ground, elbows into ribs, finger

on the button.

She shifts her weight, changes

the white balance. The lens

unfolds out, then collapses back into itself

again. She steps

forward and back.

No sound on the street

but the soft tick and flutter of the shot.

She holds the camera

away from her face. The tiny image

shows sparky spikes of light

beating out from the streetlamp,

bashing the darkness and leaving

tattered shopfronts awash

in gold lacquer,

smoothing and filling in the cracks.

She takes her time

progressing slowly round the town tree.

Finally, a car passes, and then another.

A flock of Friday night revellers

totter onto the street in matching plumage –

impossibly high heels, miniskirts, and somewhere

each one has

a touch of glitter, echoing

the street decorations.

There’s always a bit of glitter

to push back the black.

It works quite well, sometimes,

seen through the right lens.

poem – Year of the Snake

by Mary Jacob, first draft written 2 January 2013

It is the Year of the Snake –

garters, clinches, slow-acting venom,

a rustle below the line of sight, then


Is this what the year bodes?

Or is it something

seething up from our own swamp,

the lizard brain?

Strange hissing

in the inner ear, wordless susurration

and sibilants?

A whisper from the sibyl

wise, wise, wise.

Videos moved to YouTube

When I started doing the performance art in 2008, I made a few videos, most of which were intended to be ‘studies’ or proof-of-concept for conceptual art, rather than polished final products. As Rrose says,

‘My work is a life in progress’.

I put the clips onto Google Video. Recently I recieved notice that Google Video was disappearing, so I moved the clips to YouTube and have spent a bit of time looking at them again and reflecting. I’d like to share this one with you now, again.

28 November 2008 – In/Out of the Box. Presented as part of Showroom upstairs at the Coops, this piece had a video clip I made with soundtrack by Dr. T and a live component with performance by myself and music by Christoph. The lighting for the second part is a bit dark, but you can still see the action and hopefully the relationship between parts 1 and 2.

Actual peformance, including Part 1 (a video with soundtrack, as projected onto the screen) and Part 2 (live performance with live music)

  • Smash Box, what happened after the performance
  • Part 1, the final version of Part 1 video itself
  • Part 2, the initial study for Part 2, filmed on the beach

So what do I think, 2 1/2 years later?  I think the soundtrack to Part 1 works well to create the mood I was going after. I find the box image disturbing, as it is supposed to be. Little things I would change – more light in part 2 of the live performance, I’m not sure I like the journal entry part of the clip but I’m not sure what I’d replace it with. I like the music for part 2, as well. On the night, I wasn’t happy with the timings, but in looking at the clip again, I think it is fine.

If I do another photo montage in future, I will play more with the timings of the still images. Overall, I’m still happy with it.

Brick, poem revised

Just had a go at revising this.  I think it is in its final form.  But then, I usually think that and then find more things to change.  Anyway, would welcome feedback.


Poem, written 5 June 2009, revised 4 July 2009

eyelids of shops shuttered down
deflect even the gaze
not to mention the thrown brick, the thieving hand
the whole town
has arms crossed tightly across its chest

traffic lights flick from posh to derelict
as you move through the empty avenue
someone or two scurries past, clutching carrier bags
in both hands, eyes averted
evaporates at a side street

the flicker of butane illuminates a face
then just the ember glows
in the gloaming as the figure
turns to silhouette against a silver sky
that tarnishes by the minute

look for illumination, a spark in the eyes
and find only brittle smoke
smoke and mirrors, phantoms
that dissipate and slip away
leaving you standing alone
between shuttered storefronts
and broken brick

Salon Surrealist Sélavy

On 28 Feb 2009, a small group of creative people came over to my flat to try out some creativity games at the Salon Surrealist Sélavy. We found the games generated a great deal of laughter and uncovered creative synergies among the participants (what a lovely group of people!).

Here is what we had on the menu for the evening:

  1. Theta State – a tasty appetiser talking through three types of brain waves to put us in the right mood to tap into the unconscious [short performance piece by Rrose Sélavy, which had the desired hypnotic relaxation effect]
  2. Surrealist Identity Interviews – find the reality above the reality of another participant and share with the group, variation of ‘Analogy Cards’ traditional surrealist game. [interview someone you don’t already know, something like an ice-breaker but also got people to think associatively – questions and responses have been posted to the Surrealist Games page]
  3. Collage – for antipasto, two teams cut up sheets of paper they had brought with their work in words/images/music on them, swap bits with opposite team, reassemble into a collage.
  4. Exquisite Corpse – classic surrealist game based on Consequences gave us a choice of entree – each person writes one line of text, then the next person uses the last word to start a new line, or choose a sentence at random from a book, and each person in turn fills in one word according to the sentence structure.  [we played both versions several times]
  5. Palimpsest Stories – mixed vegetables in which each person in turns writes a narrative on top of the previous one – what happened yesterday, the most recent dream you can recall, a received narrative from media (novel, film, song etc). Generate random words from the overlapping writing and use the words to make new stories.  [this worked well as a follow-on to Corpse, as we were well warmed-up]
  6. Synesthesia – as an after-dinner sweet, there was more good music from Ailsa and Ted, while the rest of us drew pictures of whatever came into our minds in response to the music. Music and art improvised together.
  7. The Immortal Hour – to wrap up our meal (after 1am), we had more bread and cheese while enjoying a private showing of Ralph Colmar’s The Immortal Hour. [we were surpised to look at our watches and discover how late it was]

For more info on Surrealist games, please click the Surrealist Games tab above.