A diary project with a difference – read, burn and re-write your stories for good mental health


Taking its starting point from a 30 day performance of reading, editing and burning 30+ diaries in 2017, the Theatre of the Self documents a personal journey through life stories and encourages us to re-think our stories for good mental health.

Delpha Hudson is an interdisciplinary artist who has been making work about women and motherhood since 1998. Her paintings, installation, performance, film and sculpture have all used personal stories and sometimes diary entries to explore gendered Subjectivity and the Self. 

The performance score was the starting point for a research project about women, autobiography and telling stories.It was also a practical project that dealt with 30 years of diaries; a personal and cathartic project dealing with trauma and exploring the mental health benefits of revisiting and re-writing our stories for good mental health.

A limited edition print box set of the project is now available for sale


The 2017 project was documented on Instagram. The project took place in a quiet Cornish meadow where Delpha spent 30 days, reading, editing and burning 30+ years of diaries (1977-2010). There were 3 posts for each day  – 1 photo of the diary, 1 photo of Delpha reading the diary and 1 photo of burning the diary. The initial photos and documentation are on Instagram: theatre of the self

Some audiences were a little horrified at first of the idea of burning precious diaries, yet many came to understand the efficacy of dealing with ‘stuff’. The project is not about the destruction of archives but about the construction and creation of our best selves through the stories we tell about ourselves.

example of art project process

Research Themes

The truth is we become the stories we tell about ourselves

  • Diaries: what we leave behind, memory, truth, interpolated time, presence, transformation of self through writing and stories
  • Women’s autobiography: visibility, voice, representation & writing the self
  • Time-based performance, the body, fluid and multiple identities, trauma & the archive
  •  Historical constructs, narrative identity, narrative smoothing, & redemptive stories
  •  Narrative processing for mental health, psychological reparation of trauma, catharsis & reconstructing and rewriting the self
  • Women’s narrative recoding of domestic stories & parenting pressure, reinstatement of value for care & domestic acts, rewriting the Self for their children and the children of future generations 

display scale of what's in the box set for sale

The Theatre of the Self publishing project is a box set of 5 small A6 books; a documentation book and 4 themed mental health diaries. There are a limited edition of 100 box sets for sale at £19.95

Edited by Dr. Davina Kirkpatrick and printed by Marc Clemens, Headland Printers, Penzance, the project is funded and supported by Cultivator and Arts Council funding.

show book for sale

The documentation book has images, short excerpts from personal diaries (1977-2010) and interpolated commentaries that explore psychological narrative reconstruction  – how in changing the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, we survive trauma and improve our mental health.

Take a look inside the Theatre of the Self Documentation book

display what's in the box set for sale

The 4 colour-coded mental health diaries will use themes explored in the Theatre of the Self project research and share suggestions about ways to re-think the Self and our stories.

They include: A Little Book of Smoke & Mirrors; The Body Book; The Golden Notebook; A Little Black Book of Catharsis (with a handy match on the spine).

Take a look inside the Theatre of the Self mental health diaries.