Gale’s research for this site-specific artwork has focussed on two female prisoners from the Victorian era, that were residents here at Shepton Mallet Prison.
For many women incarcerated, poverty was the driving force behind the crimes committed. Trying to live a secure and healthy life with little or no money was (and still is) impossible to do. Hard labour (sic) punishment was handed out to prisoners; often for theft of insignificant small items or foodstuffs, for being un-ladylike (swearing), or for being destitute.
Gale’s artworks consist of two C19th style prison aprons, made from an antique, workman’s linen smock. Each apron has the name of a former Shepton Mallet prisoner, with their crime and punishment, machine-embroidered onto it. The aprons are an acknowledgement of the women who lived a life of hardship. The painted Victorian pennies are a reminder that money, education and equality are the things women need to avoid the poverty trap.
The prison aprons are an interactive artwork, I encourage visitors to try them on and take a moment to think of the prisoners that were incarcerated in C-Wing.
Please feel free to take a photo or video wearing the aprons and share them on social media.
@prison_residencies @sharon.qba #prisonResidencies #Artbehindbars
Sharon Gale is one half of the artist duo called QUIET BRITISH ACCENT, alongside her husband Jason. The duo is known for their #pennydrops, hand painted pre-decimal pennies left on the street. Ephemeral and democratic, their pennies feature whimsical slogans and are placed carefully in their environment, offering a thought-provoking, intimate experience for the passer-by. Each penny is documented in its location with a photograph which becomes part of the artwork.
Language is important to the duo and their love of the vernacular can be seen on the pennies, which often touch upon the themes of nostalgia and value.
Trained at Technical Colleges in Graphic Design and Fashion & Textiles, the couple began working together as a duo in 2011. Their work has attracted the attention of Time Out, The Guardian & Cool Hunting. QbA exhibit regularly, including a three-month residency at Elements Gallery London in 2017. They have taken part in the annual Art Car Boot Fair for the past six years and have worked on various commissions and workshops.