Over the last few years, Professor Helen Johnston and Professor Heather Shore have been working directly with Leah Mellors, Curator at Ripon Museums Trust, on a number of projects.

Most recently, they contributed to museum content (interpretation panels) for the ‘Rogues & Vagabonds’ exhibition, which ran between June and December 2019 at the three Ripon museums: workhouse, courthouse, and prison and police station.

Photo: By Gerard Binks

A collaborative project between RMT and HMP Askham Grange women’s prison has also been informed by Professor Johnston’s historical research on women in prison through the creative arts project ‘Prisoners on Prisoners’, led by Faye Claridge (pictured, right) This fascinating project, which opened at the end of the February, will be at the museums until September 2020.

The project shares the experiences of current and historic female prisoners through audio, textiles and photography. Faye connects historic prison archives with inmates at HM Askham Grange, to explore similarities and differences in their lives and prison experiences.

Through prison workshops for participants to ‘adopt’ a prisoner from the museum’s Edwardian and Victorian criminal record books, Faye has made recordings of their comparisons and created portraits to link with archive mugshots. The artwork gives prisoners a way to share their perspectives and for prison museum visitors to consider the individual lived experience of justice systems.

Faye Claridge (pictured, right) said: “The participants at Askham Grange really connected with the museum archives. Their thoughts on how prison has changed their lives and what changes might have helped prisoners 100-or-so years ago are really moving.”

‘Prisoners on Prisoners’ will be in Cell 13 of the Ripon Prison and Police Museum until 6 September 2020. The project’s progress can be followed through Instagram and twitter with @fayeclaridge, @riponmuseums or #PrisonersOnPrisoners.

For more information, please visit Ripon Museums website.

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