A new display tracing the Victorian history of HMP Liverpool (‘Walton Jail’), which involved University of Bath Criminology Professor Yvonne Jewkes, will be hosted at the Museum of Liverpool in July and August.
Highlights include original artwork and poetry created by people held in the prison, as well as specially commissioned photography from acclaimed prison photographer Andy Aitchison.
The three-and-a-half year research project, led by Professor Dominique Moran, colleagues at the University of Birmingham, and also involving the Howard League for Penal Reform, considered how the fabric and function of Victorian prisons have changed over time. It asks what it has felt like to live and work in Victorian prisons in the past and in the present, and what the persistence of the Victorian estate means for the contemporary prison system.
Through the project, Yvonne taught creative writing workshops at HMP Liverpool in February on the theme of what it’s like to live in a Victorian prison. The men in her classes wrote short stories, memoir and poetry (including Japanese haiku), accompanied by their own artwork and photography. Yvonne said that teaching creative writing at HMP Liverpool not only resulted in rich and unusual data, but was a reminder of the incredible talent that lies behind prison walls.
“It was a real privilege to be part of this project, to work with prisoners to help tell their stories, and to see this exhibition come together. It speaks both to the history of Walton Jail, but also the legacy of Victorian prisons across the UK,” she said.