The opening event
My husband, a German friend who had come over for the event, and I set up the exhibition on Saturday 29th June. On Monday morning, when I went in to steward it, I found that the moisture in the room had soaked into the paper and had bent all the diptychs. Two of the drapes had fallen off their supports, partly because the moisture had seeped into the lace and tape but this was quick and easy to fix. I immediately called my husband (30 miles away) to make 36 wooden splints with double-sided tape on one side in an attempt at straightening the paper. It did not take long to rectify, but the visitors who came before this could be done could not have had a good impression of the work.
Scheduled to last two hours starting at 6pm, there were to be several different elements to the opening event.
On arrival, the guests were each given a card with a synopsis of what the photographic project is about and my details on one side, and a part of one of the exhibited images on the other. The guests could play the game by identifying which images their one was part of. There was no compunction to play and the prize was the satisfaction of having found the image. The guests could keep the card as a memento of the evening.
This was a fun element of the evening and it relaxed the visitors and got them to chat to people they perhaps did not know. It also encouraged them to look closely at all the images.
The visitors during the week could take away a different card:
The second fun element was that the refreshments were not the conventional Prosecco and canapés. In the first instance, the gallery was asking £5 per bottle corkage. Secondly, if this was related to prisons, I wanted the guests to think of prison food. Ian’s favourite meal in (and out of) prison was pasties and carrots and cake for dessert. The drinks he was allowed were tea or coffee with UHT milk.
I had thought of using UHT milk but the gallery manager said that I had to use their facilities and that I would have to pay their rates!! So no UHT milk. Various guests had offered to bring cakes and savoury snacks. I ordered some mini pasties from our local bakery which were very popular.
I had hoped to put a prison menu sheet above the refreshments table but I was not able to get one.
Using photography, film and poetry, One Year explores the real life experiences of an inmate who spent 2016 in HM Prison Dartmoor.
This project is shaped by Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopia: a world within a world to which people do not go by choice but are placed there, like a prison or a care home. Unlike utopias or dystopias, which are imaginary concepts, heterotopias are real.
Ironically, the prison walls which separate also unite the inside with the outside, in this case, through a correspondence with Ian, a 50-year-old friend and local preacher who was incarcerated for a crime he had committed in his mid-teens. His learning and personal development reveal a particularly acute sense of place and time.
These letters, written from ‘inside’, paint an underrepresented picture of the UK prison system by the media to the ‘outside’.
The sense of place evident in Ian’s letters also shows an awareness that the world outside the prison walls was changing over time.
The organic and mineral material used in this project came from outside HM Prison Dartmoor and, in the case of the Handkerchief Tree, from Ian’s hometown, thirty miles away.
This work plays with truth and fiction in that, as working prisons are not open to the general public, the images in this body of work were made in recently decommissioned Victorian prisons which were open to the public and similar to HM Prison Dartmoor.
16 TH MAY, 2019 PRESS RELEASE: For immediate release.
One Year: transcending prison walls
A photographic exhibition exploring the lived experience of UK prisoners and prisoner identity.
1 – 12 July 2019
Cells, Devonport Guildhall, Ker St, Plymouth, PL1 4EL https://devonportguildhall.org
Exhibition Open: Mon – Sat, 9am – 3pm
Inspired by a series of letters from a friend and local preacher, incarcerated for a crime he committed in his mid-teens, artist Anna Goodchild’s new exhibition, One Year, explores his experience in HM Prison Dartmoor through photography, film, poetry and sound.
These letters, written from ‘inside’, paint a very different picture of the UK prison system from that which is often portrayed in the media. They depict experiences of personal development through therapeutic and rehabilitative practices done by, for and with the inmates, and reflect a particularly acute sense of place and time.
The diptychs presented in the exhibition illustrate aspects of life inside and outside prison walls transcended by letters.
August, 2016, tiling course © Anna Goodchild, 2019
The exhibition space “Cells”, in the former Devonport Guildhall in Plymouth, makes an ideal setting for the project which runs for two weeks from 1 st to 12 th July 2019. There is an opening event on Monday 1 st July from 6pm-8pm, and an opportunity to meet the artist on Saturday 6 th July from 11am to 1pm.
A copy of the email sent to all the relevant contacts in February, May and mid-June:
From: Anna Goodchild [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 16 May 2019 12:39
Subject: Invitation to a photography degree show
Please find attached the Press Release and an invitation to my Open College of the Arts BA Photography Degree exhibition on UK Prisons and Prisoner identity.
I look forward to hearing from you.
This is my latest publicity material.
I printed one of my botanicals on a 5cm square card to make a business card. The design is stark and distinctive, the contact information minimal.
Final adjustments to my contact : I had hoped to have had a website done by now but, tant pis, it’s not done. I’m not required to have one – I have an exhibition instead.
Initially I referred to the opening night as “Private Viewing” because that is what is done in Plymouth. the more I thought about it , the more I realised there was nothing private about it at all because I was going to publicise the event online, so I changed it to ‘ Opening night’ instead.
My final designs for my exhibition poster, flyer and invitation to the opening night:
My developing / evolving poster design:
Although this image will be used in the exhibition, it will not appear on its own: