In 2019, Luminara co-curated and was a contributing artist of the well-received 'B-Wing' exhibition set in the decommissioned, Shepton Mallet prison. The project was funded by the Art Council England as well as other funders including Hauser & Wirth Somerset. Despite the unprecedented events of the past year, Luminara has been determined to continue developing ideas for future art projects at the prison. Starting in Autumn 2021 and in partnership with artist and curator Amanda Lynch, plans are being developed to create exciting, sustainable and ongoing arts and culture events with opportunities for artists nationally and internationally set in the unique venue of prison.
Artists' Prison Residency Programme
18th September - 3rd October 2021
Working in partnership with Shepton Mallet prison we plan to use the cell space of this 400 hundred year old prison to explore and develop our individual research and art practice alongside 11 other selected female artists. The Artist Residencies are set in the cells of C-Wing, the former women’s Wing. Each artist will have the opportunity to create new works exploring a historical timeline of women’s incarceration and respond to topics such as: Victorian women within the prison system including the Suffragettes held at Shepton Mallet prison, the official and unofficial postal service within the prison and what impact this had on women’s mental health, their lives, their families and their communities while being confined within the 75 ft high prison walls.
Over the past 18 months we have all experienced the impacts of Covid-19 especially women being confined within the home. Having the residency program held within the ominous architecture of the prison allows for the theme of confinement to be explored through live practice and research. Some of the artists taking part in the residency programme have disabilities, some rarely leaving their homes over the past 18 months due to the shielding restrictions. This residency programme aims to empower these women by giving opportunities to those who may not normally be able to take part in a residency programme because of health or otherwise, to have their voices heard through discovering the stories and voices of women of the past who have experienced confinement.
For some of the artists, this will be a “live in” experience as they have requested to be confined to their allocated cells including sleeping overnight. Other artists will be involved in a remote experience as they are confined to their homes through disability.
The prison attracts approx. 1000 visitors each week therefore the Residencies are an opportunity for artists' to present their work to a new audience and engage with members of the public who may not normally visit art galleries or have experienced contemporary art.
As part of this residency programme, we aim to focus on access. This includes a remote residency opportunity for two of the disabled artists. We also aim to make the project access to D/deaf disabled visitors and offer the correct access to meet needs, such as BSL and easy read documents.
Over the course of the 16 day residency, we will have artist’s talk opportunities, a space for the artists to engage with an audience in person in a Covid Safe way as well as online with the support of online technology such as zoom. All events will be archived on the project website and social media accounts including an artist blog.
Audio Recording of Project Details here
If you missed the event please see our magazine it cam be viewed for free here: