The Air Loom is a very large sculpture that was commissioned and exhibited at The Laing Art 4 Oct 2002- 4 Jan 2003, Newcastle as part of a larger exhibition titled 'All you Need to Know'. The sculpture is a life size recreation of a room sized 18th century machine that is based on a series of delusions of a famous bedlam patient dating from 1810. The patient, James Tilly Matthews, believed that the imaginary machine was a 'mind control device'. His delusion is the first psychiatric case of someone believing to be under the control of an imaginary machine. Matthews also believed that the machine was controlling the British government at the time, and was operated by French spies or assassins.
Using original drawings and documents for reference the sculpture is the first ever physical manifestation of the imaginary device. Constructed in painstaking detail the sculpture used many of the tropes of popular historical representations to interrogate ideas of authenticity and historical veracity.
The sculpture is accompanied by an audio guide that takes the visitor on a tour of the The Air Loom and it's workings. The audio guide is written from the perspective of James Tilly Matthews enveloping the visitor in his delusion.