Exhibition Film Poem Talks and Presentations

Once Upon A Tomorrow…/Un Tro Yfory… Surrealism in Wales 2023

Just over two weeks now until the Once Upon A Tomorrow…/Un Tro Yfory… Surrealism in Wales exhibition 2023, and Darren and I are very excited to be exhibiting our work along with our comrades from the ‘Welsh tribe’.

As well as showing our collages and assemblages, we will be screening our films, La Femme AutomatiqueLa Femme (Re)trouvée and The Dream Key (eclipse), which will form part of the film programme featuring films by Jean Bonnin, Neil Coombs and Ian Walker. A short introduction to surrealism and film will accompany the screenings, followed by a Q&A with the directors. There will also be poetry readings by Darren and other members of the Welsh tribe.

‘Original artworks made with love’. 

All of the collages that Darren and I are exhibiting can be purchased as digital prints from our Etsy shop, A Labour of Mad Love. We will also be selling original hand made postcards, greetings cards and prints on the day.

A Labour of Mad Love features the collaborative artworks of Taya and Darren. We enjoy experimenting with found objects and images to create visually striking juxtapositions through chance encounters.



  hours  minutes  seconds


Once Upon A Tomorrow…/Un Tro Yfory… Surrealism in Wales 2023

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).
Enquiry La Sirena Poem

Images of La Sirena

Many thanks to our good friend, Dominic Tetrault, who recently came across these wonderful sirens, drawn by Robert Desnos – and has kindly shared them with us, at La Sirena.

‘Sirena (mermaid) teaching singing to a bird’ (Robert Desnos)
‘Sirena (mermaid) teaching singing to a bird’ (Robert Desnos)

Source for both images: Jacques Doucet literary library –

The siren is an important figure in Desnos’s work and life. Here is one of several poems featuring sirens.

His partner and second great love, the artist, Youki (Lucie Badoud) was also associated with the siren, which she had tattooed on her thigh.

Poem – ‘Mermaid’ (1930), taken from ‘The Voice of Robert Desnos: Selected Poems’, Translated by William Kulik, The Sheep Meadow Press (Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York, 2004).
Youki Desnos showing her mermaid tattoo (Robert Doisneau, Paris c.1950)
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:

Article Enquiry Poem

‘How Much Longer?’ by La Sirena

Poem and collages by La Sirena featuring in the fifth issue of Surrealerpool’s magazine, ’Patastrophe! (27 May 2022).

How Much Longer?

The torn map reveals the ghosts of the city 

Dreams of protesting with the Russian pacifists

Pleased with war’s dreadful and tumultuous roar

The locomotive has taken them nowhere 

Roll the dice and take your turn

The sunflower smiles through the blood of the rubble to greet the new day

He who cannot play chess only uses brutality

Butterfly children slaughtered by noblemen in the city 

Sugar the petrol, sell your guns and hide

The children roar in wild tears until they cry themselves to sleep

Ghosts should rise up to drag the warmonger to hell!

The desert queen serves the mad king 

The mad king is distended

Avenging strife embitters human life

What is invisible will light up the sky in incandescent colours

The doll child hides in East Budleigh 

Ivan Bilibin and Pushkin should curse the mad king to hell

A chorus of war cries from behind keyboards far from harm

The alchemy of dreaming heals the broken hearts 

Screams and curses across myriad media apps

Karkhiv can never sleep, can only dream of peace, can only endure in the hearts and minds of those who will carry hope to the highest mountains for all to see

A half-hearted re-enactment of old mistakes, but with real deaths

Extra points for the grim reaper for taking the mad king

Workers and refugees captured and tortured in a celluloid prison 

The young woman took her revolver to bed and was prepared to use it

Inferno awaits the mad king

The boys in the field are bored, or afraid or just excited by the game

My son is missing an eye and my mother’s wing has been ripped 

Dante should pull him down there

Inevitable as a pub brawl at closing time, last orders called

The imaginary letter, Z, doesn’t exist in Russian. Neither should the mad king

The inferno takes them all to his heart until they march to the beat of the war drums, the death drums, the holocaust drums

No one is leaving until we find out who really started it

Every embrace is a sign of hope, of defiance

Where are the angels now? 

The wind blows the shards of the silent mirrors across their broken faces and captures their death throes for all to see

A world left blind and toothless by the law of revenge

We suffocated on steam that turned into locks of human hair 

The mad king of antiquity belongs in the past, not now

We run and burn and fall and run over and over again

And midnight trembled to see such terrors 

The fighting leaves old men deformed in the streets 

May Baba Yaga escort the mad king to hell

A stain upon another generation, damned to repeat the whims of their rabid masters

All of this just to reset the board for the next time

Blood stained the monochrome city of ashes

We, the invisible demand to be heard even if we cannot be seen

May the liar choke on his lies

She hung up the remnants of shame like a ventriloquist’s flag for all to see

Criminals jostle to steal the clothes and words of the famous dead

The mad king is fragile, just like a chess king. And like a chess king, I want to throw him to the ground

The war is fought by actors and actresses, not by women and children

Who pays the price?

We bleed


How much longer?

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

Exhibition Film Poem Talks and Presentations

International Exhibition of Surrealism Cairo 2022

Taya King: La Sirena Surrealist Group participated in the International Exhibition of Surrealism by submitting collective poetry texts, artworks, and films, which was followed by their physical representation as a group at the exhibition in Cairo (February 2022). This historically significant event also marked the first time that all members of La Sirena have met each other since the group’s virtual inception the previous year, during lockdown. I was particularly proud to present my two films, La Femme Automatique and La Femme (Re)trouvée (2021), at the exhibition.

Darren Thomas: Being part of this great exhibition, in Cairo has been a truly special experience. As well as showing several of my collages and photographs, I screened the third film in my trilogy The Dream Key (eclipse) and performed my poetry. But my abiding memory is the collective and international nature of this meeting of hearts and minds from the surrealist community, offering a wonderful opportunity to meet old and new comrades alike from so many countries and different cultures and take part in a collective dialogue and group activities – the poetry made by all!

Doug Campbell: I had been excited to see the rebirth of Egyptian surrealism over the last few years, and was thrilled to be invited to Cairo to participate in the exhibition. Despite the many challenges faced by the organisers, the event more than lived up to expectations. A meeting of minds in a magical space, and as such, perhaps necessarily challenging. For me, those challenges were a reason to get out there and get involved, not a reason to stay at home. I’m so glad I did, and I’m sure the contacts made and the energy generated will lead to many further adventures.

Daina Kopp: I was over the moon to come to Cairo for such a monumental surrealist exhibit. As a polyglot, I was in my element to be surrounded by artists and creators of all kinds from 28 countries and 4 continents who flew in. It was an honor and a pleasure to submit artwork and perform with my surrealist dream-inspired band, Hypnagogic Telegram. It was enchanting to meet with my fellow sirens from La Sirena and I look forward to further collaborations with the artists who contributed to this amazing historical exhibit. An ancient country hosting the next chapter of surrealism. Bravo!