David Parkin's Delusions of Grandeur

Currently touring at 

Bethlem Museum of the Mind


22nd April - 22nd July 2022


Bethlem Royal Hospital
Monks Orchard Road
Kent BR3 3BX

Previously toured at

Attenborough Arts Centre

Supported by

‘David Parkin’s Delusions of Grandeur’ is a fully immersive installation that tells you everything you didn't want to know about being sectioned. In 2015 David suffered his first bipolar manic episode. Listen to songs he wrote and recorded while in the Bradgate Unit, read about moments in the ward (such as escaping to the Champagne Bar, falling madly and obsessively in love, and being punched by a fellow inmate), also check out his alternative vision of seclusion.

Funny, irreverent, heartbreaking, honest and fearless, 'David Parkin's Delusions of Grandeur' lives up to its name in all respects.

NOTE: Contains strong language and material of a sensitive nature.

Advisory: Adults aged 18+ only


Kate Unwin - Producer
Loz Atkinson - Visual Artist
David Conrd Dhonau - Sound
Prof. Steve Brown - Advisor
Tim Sayers & Lydia Towsey - 
Arts in Mental Health Coordinators 
(Leicester Partnership NHS Trust)



David Parkin in conversation with Rob G,  


Rob Gee is one of Leicester’s most loved performance poets. He’s also a psychiatric nurse. In the chat we’ll be talking about issues raised in the exhibition from a mental health nurse’s perspective. Topics may include NHS bureaucracy, the special bonds of love (and hate) between medical practitioner and patient and what it is like to physically restrain a person going properly batshit.


David Parkin in conversation w/ Philip Ross chaired by Lydia Towsey, 7th May, 2pm

Philip Ross is the chair of Design in Mental Health, a network that aims is to transform mental health environments and to improve patient recovery. Dave talked at the last DiMH conference and was rather taken aback by the new innovations in design. We’ll be talking about these innovations in contrast with Dave’s somewhat bleak experience in 2015. Also, Dave will inevitably mention key topics that still bother him, including: the inhumanity of seclusion, the ridiculousness of the NHS smoking ban when applied to mental health units and how difficult it is to wank under section.


David Parkin in conversation with Linda Parkin & Pete Shenton, 28th May, 2pm

In this chat we talk to Dave’s mum (Linda) and a close friend who visited him often, Pete Shenton. Linda was a P.E. teacher and some people might describe her as a feisty little woman and Pete is one half the comedy dance duo, New Art Club. We’ll be talking about the moments of horror and hilarity involved is supporting someone during a manic bipolar episode: having to listen to Dave sing songs while heavily sedated, making friends with other patients and the unique pain of getting a loved one sectioned.


In Conversation with Colin Gale & Lydia Towsey, followed by Bethlem Writers’ performance in David’s Delusions of Grandeur.


In Conversation…

Colin Gale is the director and former archivist of Bethlem, which means he knows rather a lot about the history of the place and about the history of mental health art itself. He will be talking about ‘David Parkin’s Delusions of Grandeur’ with Lydia Towsey, placing it in the  context of mental health art and how it has a rich connection with service users speaking out and reclaiming their mental health environments.

As well as being a writer, performer and author, Lydia is an Arts in Health Co-ordinator for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, an organisation that produces comedy, poetry, writing and performance that has a mental health focus. She has also made work drawing on her own mental health experiences.




Dave was lucky enough to hold several writing workshops with the Bethlem Writers. In a short, informal performance, Dave will lead you round his exhibition, talking about his first night on the ward, falling madly in love, the inhumanity of seclusion and the rewarding process of recovery. Along the way we will hear writing from the Bethlem Writers around these topics. Expect some fun stuff, some heavy stuff and even a song!


Good Friday, 22nd July, 6pm - 7pm

Good Friday is a journey. Nine songs from pit to recovery, from despair to hope.


In 2009, David Parkin suffered from clinical depression. As he recovered he taught himself how to play the piano and found himself writing an album about his breakdown. 'Good Friday'. Wanting to give an honest account of depression and recovery, David describes the breakdown and then the joy of discovering the piano and writing songs about it.