Artist Statement: One Year
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 majority of the images in this body of work were made in recently decommissioned Victorian prisons which were open to the public and therefore similar to HM Prison Dartmoor opened in 1809.
This is the press release for the exhibition of this work which took place from 1st July – 12th July, 2019, at the Devonport Guild Hall, Plymouth:
© Anna Goodchild 2019
One Year: Doing Time
A filmic exploration of visual metaphors connected with incarceration, referencing the rhythms, cycles and links between the internal and the external. © Anna Goodchild 2019
The LandWorks quilt
Part of the One Year project was to photograph various activities at LandWorks, the charity in Dartington, Devon, which takes prisoners on day-release to work in the gardens, learn new skills such as woodwork and pottery, and tend the chickens. I visited there for about a year photographing various elements of it. I used the photographs to make cyanotype squares which then became the LandWorks quilt which became part of the One Year exhibition.
I donated the quilt to LandWorks to auction at one of their events to raise money.
The quilt can be seen here.