There’s an art college right next door to where I live – and it sometimes provides me with shelter from the wind and rain: instead of having to walk along the pavements back from the centre of Farnham I can turn into the foyer of the college* and enter a strange and image-laden world. I can cross the quadrangle with its sets of purple or yellow chairs, edge past the Students Union and then take the long straight corridor that, at its end, opens a few metres away from my front door.
The art college isn’t at all like art colleges used to be: it’s neat, tidy and rather corporate. But it still has the power to lift the veil of ordinary perception: it still has the power to surprise, to unsettle and to disturb.
At the beginning of February whilst I was on my way home I decided to avoid the relentless rain and take a detour though the college.
I’m glad that I did because I fell under the spell of the dream-catcher.
This is how: Right at the beginning of that long straight corridor there’s a place to sit and think. But sometimes the students use the space to alert people to an art work that they are making. And as I passed that space I saw a notice neatly pinned to the wall: it said: ‘I need your dreams.’ Immediately below the notice was a pencil and a tiny pad of paper. And, adjacent to the pencil and paper was a cardboard box – a box in which to catch the dreams. There was something perfect about the request, the pencil, the paper and the cardboard box. There was something strangely seductive too.**
I sat down next to the ensemble and began to recall the details of a dream that I had had the night before. I picked up the pencil and note pad and upon it I wrote a short outline of my dream: This is what I wrote:
‘It was late afternoon. I was in a city. Maybe it was Havana. Or perhaps it was a Spanish or Italian city. The sky was still bright and the weather was hot and dry. Where was I? I was in one of those parts of a city that was on the edge – a place where people hustled and knew how to keep going. I was with my wife and she had seen the entrance to a dance club. She wanted to go in – and we did. It was a club where people danced Latin dances – sexy sultry dances. There weren’t many people inside the club. Amongst them were some habitués – the kind of men who knew how to dance and how to be coolly erotic. The music began and I felt really apprehensive. My wife got up to dance and I could see the men anticipating their next move. They watched her and began to close in. I felt something close to terror. Would they and their dancing take her away from me? And then I woke up.’
I posted the outline of my dream into the opening that had been cut into the cardboard box. As I posted it I could see that a number of other dreams – dreams that I would love to have read – had already been caught by the dream-catcher.
I was so glad that all those dreams could now live on and become part of someone or something else.
Then I got up and set off for home.
* The art college is now officially known as the Farnham Campus of the University of the Creative Arts (UCA)
** The artist (Harry) who wanted our dreams had embarked on an esoteric project that melded the dreams with poetry.