Contained Speech. Confinement. Women’s Rights. Suffrage. Communication.
Conscious of the limited means to express oneself in prison, ‘Balloons’ embodies air as representative of thoughts, speech, and fractured communication within a contained environment. Balloons, normally associated with parties and celebrations, occupy the confined space of the prison cell. The balloon tails in white, purple and green represent the colours of the suffragette movement; many women were imprisoned when campaigning for the right to vote.
Hall is interested in how people can maintain a sense of connection through their immediate surroundings by observing and reflecting on what they have, where they come from, and how they respond to challenging environments. Having been denied empathic or sensory stimulation during the pandemic, Hall believes the re-emergence of deeply personal forms of communication has become more relevant than ever i.e., face-to-face conversation, diary journaling, letter writing. During the residency Hall will explore the fleeting one-sided nature of communication through hand-written thoughts, and overheard snippets of conversations recorded on scraps of used envelopes then attached to the balloon tails and displayed inside the cell.
Polly Hall is a writer and host of the podcast, Procrastination Station. Her debut contemporary gothic horror novel, The Taxidermist's Lover, was published in December 2020 and has since been reviewed in the New York Times, nominated as a Bram Stoker Award finalist, won Gold in the Independent Publishing Awards, and was a finalist in the DragonCon awards.
The interconnectivity of the environment and place forms a large part of her writing. In The Taxidermist's Lover, she uses the county of Somerset as an integral component of the narrative. Following the publication of her first novel, she decided to commit to writing full-time, including community-based projects steeped in the richness of place.
Polly is writing the prequel to The Taxidermist's Lover alongside another unrelated novel in the horror genre. The micro-residency at Shepton Mallet Prison allows her to expand her writing portfolio and develop her creative practice as an emerging artist.