Article Enquiry Game

‘An Enquiry on Desire and the City’ by La Sirena

Game and collages by La Sirena featuring in the seventh issue of Surrealerpool’s magazine, ’Patastrophe! (1 May 2023).

‘Proposals for Surrealist Urban Planning’

The ‘Proposals for Surrealist Urban Planning’ game by Doug Campbell involves each player (minimum of two) taking a picture of a local landmark that they think has surrealist potential, and the others situating it in a more fitting environment.

Rules of the game:

Each player selects a building or landmark from their own local environment. This should be a building or structure that seems to them to have surrealist possibilities, perhaps seeming to be haunted or suggesting a role more dramatic than originally intended. For example, this could be a place that the player notices every time they pass, one that provokes irrational feelings, or that they find themselves dreaming about.

Each player then passes a photo or found image of it onto another member of the group.

Each player then takes the image that they have received from another member and situates the structure in a new landscape or context that they feel brings out its true surrealist nature. The structure can be resized or given a new function in any way that seems appropriate. This is most easily done by photo collage, but any available method may be used.

Catherine Sinclair Monument, Edinburgh, Scotland, photograph by Doug Campbell
‘Your Dearest Wish Will Come True’, hand-cut collage with mixed media by Taya King
‘Never Never Land’, Southend-on-Sea, England, photograph by Taya King
‘Quite a Harvest’, hand-cut collage with digital enhancement by Daina Kopp         
‘The Helping Hand’, Chicago, Illinois, photograph by Daina Kopp
‘As Above, So Below’, hand-cut collage by Darren Thomas
Prittlewell Square, Southend-on-Sea, England, photograph by Darren Thomas
‘Castle at the Gates of Time’, photomontage by Doug Campbell
Article Game Poem

‘The Flesh Steals Work That Condemns’ by La Sirena

Poem by La Sirena featuring in Jean Bonnin’s book, A Guidebook to Surrealism: Surrealism by Surrealists (2022).

The Flesh Steals Work That Condemns

The flesh steals work that condemns

The meat steals the work that you throw away

The mountain throws it back at you

We wear the coat of eyes in autumn

The bird told me a tale of autumn leaves

The heart is stolen from the work

The thunderbird flew out of the stone

When the cave was empty

Yet the flesh demands that we swallow the hours of her peacock clock

Meat is a wasteful job

The tower will dance when you see it

Silently the stars shone their shadow talk so that the smile was broken nightly

It has all gone asunder

Work disguises itself as life and holds time hostage

The body steals the work of resistance

I will return to the swaying clouds

‘Embrace the pleasure principle’ declares the flesh

But not before the books write themselves

Whose face is missing now?

Sinful deeds, damning works

Who can know the revolution of the clock more than those who toil in the fetid sweatshops of capitalist hierarchies?

The sleeping clocks pretend to chime

Does a backwards clock run faster?

The world will never know

The wisdom of the cats in medusa masks knows no equal

Who holds the keys to past doors?

Who steals the work he condemns?

When will the wind sing in my ears again?

The body steals work it judges

Their secret is the golden travesty that pierces the palimpsest of flesh

The cats whisper the secrets that were frozen in time

Cats fed on dogs’ meat 

And the wish cast in the placenta birdcage painted the trail to keys I cannot grasp

Embryonic fires burn out the future of time

Cats mummified in wishes and curses

Even their bones sing with the echoes of murder and the murder of echoes in triplicate

All this and a dancing amoeba

Collective poem by Doug Campbell, Taya King, Daina Kopp and Darren Thomas

Article Game Poem

‘How Much Longer?’ Collective Poem by La Sirena

Poem by La Sirena featuring in John Bradley’s book, Blue Will Rise Over Yellow: An International Poetry Anthology for Ukraine (2023).

And Blue Will Rise Over Yellow: International Poetry Anthology for Ukraine, edited by John Bradley, is a must for our troubled world. Each poem here has risen out of need and feeling, acknowledgement and daring, a choice of weapons. Yes, art can work that way: giving shared space to each unique voice, these tropes of humanity bare the realities of war, as well as lived moments of life and death. Here, each poem coaxes us to see into, to feel, to know, as witnesses—moments of action rendered through contemplation—war and history. Tender and bold, we witness the gore of battle from the periphery, through crafted cadences and experimental shapes and sounds woven in this poignant collection. 

–Yusef Komunyakaa, 2021 Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award 

And Blue Will Rise Over Yellow is an incredible book—so much terror in these pages, and yet so much delight of language, imagery, so much music of the unsaid, so much emotion of tears withheld, of screams swallowed, of bullets becoming periods, punctuation marks. It is an incredible book because it shows us that human spirit survives, in the midst of bombardments, facing death, there is a voice that cannot be taken away, a voice that joins the chorus of other voices, across the globe. To these poets, and these translators, my endless gratitude. 

–Ilya Kaminsky, author of Dancing in Odessa and Deaf Republic
Article Game Poem

‘I Am Still Here’ by Surrealists in Wales

Poem by Surrealists in Wales featuring in the seventh issue of John Richardson’s magazine, Once Upon A Tomorrow/Un Tro Yfory (7 January 2023).

Film Game Poem Talks and Presentations

The Lost Plot

Surrealerpool, the Liverpool Surrealist group, organised a public happening ‘The Lost Plot’ on Friday 9th February 2023. This was a vibrant and thoroughly ‘pataphysical manifestation of the Surrealerpool group. We hope there will be many more.

Doug Campbell attended as a representative of La Sirena, and is entirely responsible for the ‘in the moment’ quality of the photos below. We hope they give a flavour of the event.

The programme


Collective performance of the Surrealerpool manifesto

Further inspirational readings

The audience is rapt!

Climactic ritual sacrifice of the Lost Plot piñata


The website of the Surrealerpool group, is linked below. Their numerous publications are uniformly excellent and warmly recommended.

Article Game Poem

‘How I Sometimes Feel’ by Surrealists in Wales

Collage and poems by Surrealists in Wales featuring in the sixth issue of Surrealerpool’s magazine, ’Patastrophe! (7 November 2022).

‘How I Sometimes Feel’ (Jean Bonnin, Steve Handsaker, Taya King, John Richardson, Darren Thomas, Tracy Thursfield & John Welson) 25th & 26th July, 2022 (29.5 x 42cm).
Game Poem

Surrealists in Wales

Taya and I recently met up with several of the surrealists of Wales, including Steve Handsaker, John Richardson, Tracy Thursfield and John Welson, in the beautiful mountainous setting of Clyro, on my birthday. John Richardson kindly hosted the meeting at his house.

JW, TT, TK, DT, JR & SH.

We created a collective collage and some collective poems featuring in the sixth issue of Surrealerpool’s magazine, ’Patastrophe! (7 November 2022). Although, Jean Bonnin was not able to attend, he was certainly there in spirit and provided materials and ideas, which we incorporated into the collective work.

‘How I Sometimes Feel’ (Jean Bonnin, Steve Handsaker, Taya King, John Richardson, Darren Thomas, Tracy Thursfield & John Welson) 25th & 26th July, 2022 (29.5 x 42cm).

I Am Still Here

Fridge Eyes and bakerlite eyebrows
Underwater music filters through the night
There where we murdered the mirrors
Vulnerable lips choking on mirrors
Invoking the mystery of days to come
Announcing the moon balloon of memory
The lost child embraced chance encounters
Coins tossed, dice shaken, and light bulbs smashed
Light filtered in the shrine of a stolen memory singing
I am a man, I am a woman, I am a fighter – I am still here

Over A Number

Over a number
Blue stolen shadows creep
Light refracts on the breaking of dawn
The asparagus train pulls into the station
We play games with their faces nightly
The dragon dresses in the latest fashion
And ice falls from the eyes of the woman in black
As the dice swallow the odd numbers only
The egg is buried in the graveyard, never to be seen again
As golden tears fall on the luminous ground

Jean Bonnin
Taya King
John Richardson
Darren Thomas

26 July 2022

I also received a number of birthday gifts. Here are two that Tracy Thursfield and John Welson created:

Film Game Masks of the City

Exquisite Corpse

Exquisite Corpse, created by: Janice Hathaway, Taya King, Irene Plazewska and Darren Thomas (London, 2022).

This exquisite corpse was created in a café, in London, during the making of the filmMasks of the City’.

Exhibition Game

Exquisite Corpse for the International Exhibition of Surrealism Part One: Cairo 2022 Poetic and Critical Anthology

The below exquisite corpse features on the front cover of the International Exhibition of Surrealism Part One: Cairo 2022 Poetic and Critical Anthology, which was collectively produced by the members of La Sirena Surrealist Group.

(Digital Collage by La Sirena Surrealist Group)

Taya: The international spirit of the Surrealist Exhibition in Cairo is reflected here in the hybrid union of the creature’s three culturally distinct heads, including (from left to right) that of a Moai statue from Easter Island, an ancient Greek sculpture from the Classical period and an ancient Egyptian mummy from the host country, all of which were sourced from Harter’s Picture Archive for Collage and Illustration.

(Hand cut collage by Taya King)

Darren: I sourced the torso from an old favourite of mine – Heck’s Pictorial Archive of Nature and Science, from the section on anatomical bodies. I was struck by the positioning of the arms, which I read as a welcoming gesture and immediately brought back fond memories of how I felt when I was in Cairo amongst my surrealist comrades, who embraced La Sirena with open arms. I cannot think of a more fitting gesture to grace the cover of the anthology for the International Exhibition of Surrealism, with its emphasis on internationalism, open to all. 

(Hand cut collage by Darren Thomas)

The butterfly wings were taken from another of my favourite books: The Observer Book of Butterflies. I am constantly drawn to butterflies because of their association with flight, freedom, transformation, rebirth and hope, and, again, these associations were wedded to my experiences of flying to Cairo and being part of the exhibition, which was truly transformative.

Daina: I’ve always been fond of bestiaries and fantastical creatures like those imagined by Hieronymus Bosch (1450 – 1516), Peter Bruegel the Elder (1525? – 1569) and J J Grandville (1803 – 1847). I love medieval bestiaries and pull a lot of inspiration for my work from such books.

(Digital collage by Daina Kopp)

The hips came from an image of, Pan, the Greek god of Shepards and the mountain wilds. The tail came from an engraving, DRAGON, 1640. Draco Aethiopicus. Woodcut from Ulisse Aldrovandi’s ‘Serpentum et Draconium Historiae’, Bologna, Italy, 1640.

I can’t recall where the image of Pan came from exactly. It might have been from the book Treasury of Fantastical and Mythological Creatures: 1087 Renderings from Historical Sources by Richard Huber.

Doug: For the legs, I used a reversed stock image of a knight in full body armour.

(Digital collage by Doug Campbell)

This turns out to be a 16th century wood engraving by Vecellio Cesare, a cousin of Titian! The metal ‘scales’ on the legs made me think of birds and reptiles, so I found textbook engravings of chicken feet and added them on.

Exhibition Game

‘Dreams of Cairo: Icarus Rising’

(Hand cut collage and mixed media by Darren Thomas)