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David Parkin's Delusions of Grandeur

Exhibited 2023:

Leicester Gallery DMU

23nd Sep - 10th Nov 2023


De Montfort University,

The Gateway,



Previously toured at

Attenborough Arts Centre

Bethlem Museum of the Mind

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)

Events at DMU 2023


David talks with Nikki Mattocks. Chaired by Lydia Towsey

Nicki is a queer, disabled 26-year-old freelance lived experience consultant and public speaker who, like Dave, has been sectioned. She works with organisations and charities to ensure lived experience is at the heart of policy, services and events.
She lives with multiple mental health conditions, and her narrative used to be defined more by the medical model. Now she prefers to see her issues in line with the psycho-social model and the
trauma informed model of mental health.
She’ll be talking to Dave and Lydia about the reality of sectioning and the hope for a better model inthe future.

david parkin.jpeg

Good Friday (the clinical depression concept album show).

Moving, charming and devastatingly honest, Good Friday deals with a troubling issue in an approachable and entertaining way. With tunes. And gags.
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. With help from 

multi-instrumentalist, Dave Dhonau, David presents the album in his own inimitable, charismatic way.
Chatting between songs he tells us of the breakdown and of the love affair between man and piano that blossomed as he wrote the album.


"That from such terrible pain something so beautiful, simple and life affirming could emerge is staggering. I still think it's a fantastic bit of work."- Peter Wyeth


David talks with Chris Slowe and Tara Gatherer. Chaired by Lydia Towsey

Chris and Tara are two of David’s closest friends, who visited him when he was under section. They’ll be talking about the moments of horror and hilarity involved in supporting someone during a manicbipolar episode: having to listen to Dave sing songs while heavily sedated, making friends with otherpatients and being there when the high ended and the depression began.


David talks to rapper Ricky C. Chaired by Lydia Towsey.

Ricky (C) Smith was sectioned at the same time as David, a total of three times between the ages of twenty three and twenty five. He is a musician performing in Europe and various venues in the UK with three million plus views. His diagnosis is Bi-Polar type disorder which is managed by Lithium. Please check out his album “The Story So Far” on YouTube or streaming platforms here: 

Brightsparks pic .jpg

The Vulnerable Invulnerable: Sound Scape Created by 

Wednesday WORD!s and Showcase Collective. 


For LCB Depot's 'Sound Season' David created a sound piece with Wednesday WORD!s and Showcase Collective.

'The Vulnerable Invulnerable' looks at powerful moments we remember, what we are thankful for and how mental health can change us.

In partnership with Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, WORD! and BrightSparks Arts in Mental health CIO.

Workshops coordinated and facilitated by Lydia Towsey.

Workshops, sound, edit & piano by David Parkin  

Launch Event Photos 

Comments in the Gallery Feedback Book


What is the point? Of girders and steel. Crowned upon dead trees. And tubing, the restful place of clouds. Seen at North-South, East, West. If only to sit. To think at one with the thrushes rush to beat, dawns arrest. Then to sit sometime later before the setting sun. To hear voices sing out in other dimensions. Curtailed within my head. Thank you for being who you are and sharing yourself. 


Raw, brave and authentic to your experience. The cloud room isn't bad either 😊. Fantastic and important work, Dave. Huge Congrats on spreading the good word.


Felt it! It crept into my skin, shivering. I went through it with Dave. Coming out is not easy.


All the best, Dave. I had problems. So did many others. Your exhibition was brilliant.


Hi, Dave. I felt understood. I struggled with mental health disorders. And your exhibition made me cry. I am proud of you. You showed us the truth. Keep creating. 


Hello, Dave. You are brave. Thank you for sharing. All the best 😊 


A really interesting insight (that is rarely seen or given the stage to be shared) into mental health. Your story is fascinating. And feels so real even through an outsider perspective. Amazing.


Good exhibition. Cheers mate. Lots of love.


Dave. Funny, ironic, sarcastic, brave and very authentic. Enjoyed it. Spelling mistakes in your work. Sorry, I'm a graphic designer. Thought you might experiment with more visuals next time (to add more to your profound experience). Well done and thanks for sharing.


Without sounding like a prick, this exhibition is a wonderful thing. An insight into madness that is rarely shared in such an open way. Thanks for sharing, Dave. Here’s to riding the waves.


Reading the inner workings of your mind made me feel less concerned about my own. Thanks for sharing.


Lovely job. Not picked up a guitar for over 30 years. But still, remember the notes of 'Oral E'.


Thanks, Dave. It's my birthday today.


Authentic and real and honest. Thank you for sharing your experience.


I loved it. The sequence of the story is amazing and touching. With an emotional journey for the visitor.


Thank you so much for (over) sharing your experience and thoughts. Excellent work.

Hi, Dave. It was nice seeing your work. Love your work.


Hi, Dave. It was amazing to see your work. It was very inspiring and admired it very much. You should be proud of yourself. And wish you the best for the future. We played music of our own. And like yours, was very inspired by it.


Hi there, Dave. I just popped in. Into your recordings. I had a partner recently. And to listen to you was very similar to listening to him. He has undiagnosed (we are guessing) bipolar. Three years waiting list. He's back on the heavy drinking now. Downhill from there. ☹  I'm glad to hear you have persevered. 😊


Intimate, vulnerable and thought provoking. A good insight into the reality of those struggling with mental illness and definitely worth the experience. Emotional.


Brilliant original work. Important and relevant. Thank you.


We know each other. I've seen this exhibition before. I worked on a VR version. I've listened to your words and songs and stories in the pub. But today I took my time. You've created something powerful, emotional, funny and incredibly honest. It's really moved me in a way it hasn't before. Be very proud of yourself. I'm proud that I know the Dave you are now.


Dear Dave. Fabulous exhibition. So interesting and thought provoking. I was, however, disappointed that your 'swingers' story didn't get a look in? Maybe the next one?


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.

Events at Bethlem in 2022


David Parkin in conversation w/ Philip Ross chaired by Lydia Towsey.


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.


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.

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Good Friday, 22nd July.


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.

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