Deirdre Porter-Hanson

CONFINEMENT

 

: the act of confining someone or something : the state of being confined

: the time when a woman is giving birth to a baby

 

 

The very particular experience of imprisoned women as mothers informs my intentions for this work.

 

In the 19th century  prison was referred to as a House of Correction. A place for time spent in enclosed space with the intention of transformation;

“the opportunity for reflection” as described in Revelations of Prison Life by George Laval Chesterton 1856 “with the respect and benevolence due to humanity”.

For something good to come from a time of difficulty.

 

Petitions in the late 1800s, from those such as Elizabeth Fry, for women prisoners to be housed separately from male prisoners to protect them from rape and sexual exploitation led to the setting up of women’s prisons.

 

Originally designed with male prisoners in mind, prisons made little or no provision for the needs of female prisoners or their children, specifically those who were pregnant, birthing or nursing.

 

The separate/ silent system left vulnerable women at great risk during times of birthing and miscarriage. Convict Nurseries were established to allow pregnant and nursing mothers some support and comfort especially for their children.

 

In these pieces, loss of identity or secretion of personal identity through the isolating existence of women prisoners is highlighted in anonymous forms which hold unknown secrets, personal effects, tiny treasures. Forms pregnant with hidden presence.

Life suspended, Life on hold.

 

Although the project references the historical experiences of female convicts many of the issues remain in women’s prisons today.

 

Deirdre is a visual artist based in Bedfordshire.

 

Alongside conventional art practices, she uses salvaged and repurposed materials for wall-based, sculptural and installation pieces.

 

Through these materials, which carry personal and shared significances, she invites us to reconsider the often overlooked subtleties of everyday life and relationships, the fragility and temporality of our lives.

The fabric of life which speaks of memory, shared histories and inherited knowledge.

 

Her interest in the complexities of female identity is fed by personal experience of family life, as well as understandings found through therapy, faith and wellbeing practices.

 

She is particularly interested in the changing roles of women within societies; the boundaries, limitations and expectations that are implicitly and explicitly placed upon females are examined through making.

 

She teaches and facilitates art projects for all ages of the community.

Her work has been exhibited in the UK, Kenya and Malawi

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/deirdreporterhanson

Images will be added daily from 18/09/2021 - 03/10/2021 to show the progression of making over the course of the Prison Residencies project. 
 

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