Faye Claridge at Ripon Museums Trust

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  • Faye Claridge

The Ripon Workhouse Museum & Garden, Prison & Police Museum and the Courthouse Museum all tell stories of desperate people – who were often led through being poor to a life of petty crime – and the punishments were cruel and severe.

For her project Prisoners on Prisoners, Faye Claridge connected historic prison archives from Ripon Museums with inmates at HM Askham Grange, to explore similarities and differences in their lives and prison experiences. Prison workshops invited participants to ‘adopt’ a prisoner-character from the museum’s Edwardian and Victorian criminal record books, and from this Claridge made recordings of the participant’s exploring similarities and differences in experiences through time. Claridge also created portraits of participants to link with archive mugshots. The artwork gave prisoners a way to share their perspectives and for prison museum visitors to consider the individual lived experience of justice systems.

I proposed working with the prison because it’s really important to include the voices of those most affected by the public image of crime and punishment: present-day prisoners. The museum is part of that public image and the project gives the prisoners a way to share their perspectives and for museum visitors to consider the individual lived experience of justice systems. It also really matters to me that Askham Grange is a women’s prison, for the museum to reflect the complexities of how custody affects families, children and the perception of women’s position in society.” – Faye Claridge

You can view video clips from the project here.

“Askham Grange Prison are proud to work in this project  which reflects on prison life during Victorian England with the emphasis upon punishment as a priority and how this compares to the modern prison system where a greater weight is added to rehabilitation. This demonstrates the distance travelled in how we treat offenders in custody. The participants were able to have empathy for their counterparts and the difficulties they faced in their lives whilst recognising the many similarities they share and how they shaped their patterns of offending behaviours.” – Neil Dembry, HM Askham Grange. Askham Grange is an open prison and young offender institute (YOI) in Askham Richard, near York, for women aged 18 and over.

Prisoners on Prisoners was in Cell 13 of the Ripon Prison & Police Museum from 8 February – 6 September 2020.

The Ripon Museums Trust presents three museums in Ripon that tell the story of the poor and lawless of Victorian England: the Workhouse Museum & Garden, Prison & Police Museum and the Courthouse Museum.

The Artist

Faye Claridge produces contemporary art works in response to archives and traditions, believing our current and future identities are shaped by ideas about the past. She frequently works site-specifically and with the public, encouraging participation in research, production and installation.