Voices from the inside – textile designs by prisoners

The York Quilt Museum and Gallery will host an exhibition curated by Fine Cell Work volunteers, showcasing quilts created by prisoners.

Selection of Sleep Quilt Patches
Selection of Sleep Quilt Patches

Fine Cell Work, a social enterprise, works with prisoners to instil hope and discipline through long hours of needlework in their cells. Inmates create pictures, bags and cushions alongside handcrafted quilts, and are paid for their work, sometimes stitching for up to a year on the largest works.

The exhibition will showcase commissioned quilts made by prisoners, each with their own storyboard to tell the story of each work’s creator.

Signature Quilt
Signature Quilt

Commissions for Fine Cell Work needlework have been worldwide, alongside heritage pieces for museums such as the V&A and Tate Modern.

Voices from the Inside hopes to convey the conditions in which the quilts were made, with one piece called “The Cell Quilt” portraying a bird’s eye view of a prison cell.

Tracy Chevalier Sleep Quilt
Tracy Chevalier Sleep Quilt

Linda LePard, a Fine Cell Work volunteer and co-curator of the exhibition says, “these are very small workspaces with the lack of equipment you would find at home, and with these quilts the prisoners have achieved something remarkable.”

“We are trying to make people stop and think about perceptions of what prison life is about,” she adds. “This is another very real point of view that the public do not get to see.”

Wandsworth Quilt

Source: V&A

Wandsworth Quilt

Voices from the Inside will run from 24 January to 9 May 2015 at Quilt Museum and Gallery, St Anthony’s Hall, Peasholme Green, York, YO1 7PW.

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