The truth is we become the stories we tell about ourselves

Taking its starting point from a 30 day performance of reading, editing and burning 30+ diaries in 2017, the Theatre of the Self is a project and book that 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. 

‘Performed’ in 2017, the performance score became a  starting point for a research project about women, autobiography, our stories – and surviving motherhood. It was also a practical project that dealt with 30 years of diaries; a personal and cathartic project dealing with trauma; a process of exploring the mental health benefits of revisiting and re-writing our stories for good mental health.

This website gives you a look inside the 2021 limited edition boxset of documentation and mental health diaries, enables you to read more about the project process, access mental health services or buy a boxset.

THE THEATRE OF THE SELF performance documentation on Instagram

The project is not about the destruction of archives but keeping what we want and living ourselves into our best stories, as well as the efficacy of dealing with ‘stuff’. The 2017 project was documented on Instagram and 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 and all of the documentation is on Instagram theatre of the self

shows art project

Research Themes

  • 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 

Project news:

The Virtual Book Launch took place online on Thursday 4th March 2021 with artist & author Delpha Hudson, host Helen Battelley and invited speakers Dr Polly Hudson, Dr Davina Kirkpatrick & Rene Crouch. View the event online.

The books were also part of an online exhibition & collection of artist’s books about mental health: ‘It’s A New Day’ is hosted by Bower Ashton Library in collaboration with Arnolfini, Bristol, Tues 2nd March – Sun 18th April 2021.

They were also included in the online BABE book fair at the Arnolfini  17-18 April 2021, with my film about the making of the book available online from Friday 16th April. More on my artist’s news

Other Instagram live chats took place during April & May 2021 with Helen Sargeant of Maternal Art & Carrieanne Vivianette of CVIV arts – videos can be accessed on Instagram or on Conversations on Resilience: with Delpha Hudson