The Air Loom, A Human Influencing Machine
Art installation by Rod Dickinson
This artwork is a materialisation of the paranoid delusion of James Tilly Matthews, a Bethlem patient of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Matthews believed that influencing machines were hidden close to the corridors of power and were being operated to devastating effect by a shady gang of French revolutionaries bent on plunging Europe into war. He was also convinced that one of these enormous machines had been placed in or near Bethlem Hospital with malign intent towards him.
Matthews’ careful drawing and precise description of the Air Loom attracted considerable interest in his case both during and after his lifetime. There is a fine modern biography of him by Mike Jay, a trustee of the Museum of the Mind, and a website devoted to Rod Dickinson’s artistic representation of Matthews’ worst fears at www.theairloom.org.
The installation is currently on display in the newly refurbished Bethlem Boardroom located in the museum.
Free entry - all welcome