top of page

BEN PLATTS-MILLS

Ben 1.jpg
Home: Welcome
PSEI7404_edited.jpg

"An extraordinarily gifted story-teller"
- Robert Newman

I'm a UK-based writer and artist. My work strays across the boundaries between art, science and medicine and uses prose and drawing to tell lesser-known stories. My memoir, Tell Me The Planets, about my work with survivors of brain injury, was published by Penguin in 2018. You can also read a life-writing project I ran with the same people called Who Are You Now?  My essays have been published by AeonPsyche and BBC.com. You can hear me being interviewed on the History Hit podcast. I also work as a facilitator, helping people communicate across professional and political boundaries so they can investigate difficult subjects safely.

Home: Welcome
Home: Work

RECENT

Crick 1.jpg

FRANCIS CRICK INSTITUTE | CUT+PASTE | NOVEMBER 2023

I hosted the closing event for the Cut+Paste season of public discussions on genome editing at the Francis Crick Institute. Read more here

Soheila Sokhanvari(1).jpg

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL | SOHEILA SOKHANVARI | OCTOBER 2023

I interviewed the brilliant painter Soheila Sokhanvari live at the Cheltenham Literature Festival

Blackboard 4.jpg

HISTORY HIT | OPPENHEIMER | JULY 2023

Dan Snow interviewed me about the life of Robert Oppenheimer for the History Hit Podcast. Listen here

Blue Flash 2.jpg

THE BLUE FLASH | BBC.COM | JULY 2023

I wrote and illustrated a graphic essay about the Manhattan Project for BBC.com. Read here

Home: Text

BLOG

Home: Blog Feed

ESSAYS

Blue Flash hero for web_edited.jpg

July 2023

About a fatal accident at the Manhattan Project in 1946. On confidence, the politics of science and the role of human bodies in quantum mechanics.

Oppie for web.jpg

'WHO WAS ROBERT OPPENHEIMER?'

- BBC.COM

July 2023

A profile of Robert Oppenheimer, 'father of the atomic bomb'. On physics, poetry and negative capability.

Apple-butterfly for web.jpg

'ANIMAL VEGETABLE MINERAL'

- AEON.CO

April 2023

About my step mother, a zoologist and writer who had a stroke in 2010. On the violent history of taxonomy, and on re-valuing unconscious lives.

FT for web_edited.jpg

Sept 2021

On freedom: the story of a rural psychiatric hospital in France during World War II. Exploring the shared roots of humanistic psychiatry, antifascism and 'Art Brut'.

AS st pauls for web_edited.png

Oct 2020

On embodied memory: brain injury survivors keep on being themselves, even when they can't consciously recall events in their lives.

AS_2018_05_SMTP-50_edited_edited.png

July 2020

About my friend Matthew, a computer scientist who had a cyst removed from his brain. On materialism, identity and teleportation.

Home: Work

INSTAGRAM

Home: Text
Home: Instagram Widget
Home: Work

BOOKS

TMTP cover.jpg

TELL ME THE PLANETS

Penguin, 2018

A memoir drawn from the 16 years I spent working with survivors of brain injury at the non-profit organisation, Headway East London. Seen here with John Gray's beautiful hardback cover design.

"Platts-Mills founds his portrait on meticulous observation... The net effect is not only aesthetic and clinical, but political as well" 

- Times Literary Suppliment

"Probably the best book I know about what it's like to live with brain injury" - Vaughan Bell

"An absorbing and moving account" - Penelope Lively

"In Platts-Mills’ extraordinary book, the characters of people damaged by violence, stroke or accident of birth outshine the medical details... what really defines these individuals, even as memory fails and words elude them, is their stubborn vitality"

- Nature

Read an out-take from Tell Me The Planets

Order Tell Me The Planets

61T89EX2PHL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

ENGLISH LANGUAGE FOR BEGINNERS

Writers and Readers, 1998

Many years ago I co-wrote and illustrated this documentary comic book about linguistics. It included sections on psycholinguistics and child language acquisition, the history of the English language, and contemporary political theory. It also contained a rather decent drawing of a young Noam Chomsky.

Here are my faviourite Amazon reviews:

"As a teacher of A level English Language I've never understood why this very useful guide was discontinued. It is truly excellent for a very wide range of abilities." - Scampo

"I am shocked that this brilliant book is out of print... I treasure my copy and would love to see it back in print because I am always recommending it to people I encounter in my life as an educator and inset lecturer."

- M.A. Topping

Home: About Me

AUDIO & VIDEO

Home: HTML Embed

OPPENHEIMER

July 2023

Dan Snow interviewed me again for the History Hit podcast. This time on the life of Robert Oppenheimer, 'father of the atomic bomb'.

Home: HTML Embed

THE PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL THAT FOUGHT THE NAZIS

March 2023

An interview with Dan Snow for the History Hit podcast, about Saint Alban psychiatric hospital and its role in the French Resistance during World War II.

Home: Video

BARBICAN SCREEN TALK: OUR LUCK HOURS

March  2021

In support of their Jean Dubuffet exhibition, I was invited by the Barbican to discuss Martine Deyres' brilliant film Our Lucky Hours with Sarah Lombardi, director of the Collection de l'Art Brut in Lausanne. The film tells the story of the psychiatric hospital at Saint-Alban and inspired my essay Asylum for Aeon (Sept 2021).

Home: Video

BLUE PLANET BLACK HOLE

May 2019

A film about ecology, climate change, acquired disability and speculative futures, commissioned by the Barbican. I interviewed Graham Naylor for this collaboration with the wonderful Nicky Deeley. We conducted most of the interview by email and used computer-generated voices to bring it into the film - a way of overcoming Graham's challenges with speech and of reflecting on the role of technology in his life. You can hear us talking in person towards the end.

Home: HTML Embed

THE WORLD BEYOND MY HEAD
May 2019

A podcast I helped to make for Headway East London. Brain injury survivors Victoria and Lewis make a journey to University College London to interview neuropsychologist Vaughan Bell. Victoria's dad Henry, a cab driver, gives them a lift and, on the way, father and daughter share an emotional exchange.

Home: About Me

SPEAKING & FACILITATION

Home: Work

I love working live as a speaker and facilitator. I have spoken at venues including the Wellcome Collection, Science Museum, Barbican and the Cheltenham Festival. My broadcast appearances include BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio London, Sky News and ITV News. I have appeared in conversation with artists, writers, scientists and experts-by-experience. I specialise in non-adversarial public facilitation: I work inclusively, acknowledge emotions and create enjoyable, accessible discussion around difficult subjects. I don't chair debates, I support conversations that allow honesty and safe questioning. If you or your organisation need help to create positive public discourse around challenging topics, please get in touch. You can see some examples of my work below.

CRICK INSTITUTE: GENOME EDITING

BARBICAN: REBEL REBEL

Crick 1.jpg
Sohei Barb.JPG

June - November 2023

I facilitated five evenings of public conversation on the subject of genome editing as part of the Francis Crick Institute's Cut + Paste season. The conversations created a safe setting for scientists, sociologists, philosophers, psychologists and people living with genetic conditions to explore the opportunities and risks represented by new editing techniques as well as their social, political and personal implications. You can read about and listen to clips from these events here.

October, 2022

I was invited to facilitate a public conversation with artist Soheila Sokhanvari at her exhibition Rebel Rebel at the Barbican: a collection of portraits of Iranian women who were famous at the time of the 1979 revolution. The show coincided with major political protests in Iran, raising the show's profile and heightening the expectations placed on Soheila as a spokesperson for the protests. I was asked to hold a safe space for Soheila to discuss her work and  life as well as the events in Iran.

HEADWAY EAST LONDON: BRAIN INJURY

Sci Mus 2.jpg

2004-2020

While at Headway East London, I supported survivors of brain injury to develop public-speaking practices, appearing with them at venues including London's Science Museum and Welcome Collection. I interviewed them one-to-one and chaired panels that included them alongside researchers and clinicians. I developed methods to ensure that survivors weren't held back by communication barriers, that experts spoke plainly and that public spaces were safe for the discussion of traumatic experiences.

Untitled_edited.png
Home: Welcome
Home: Contact

CONTACT

benpmills@protonmail.com


Or subscribe to my mailing list below.

Home: Subscribe

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page