Author Archives: Jenny Wicks

Jenny Wicks:

This is a great article by Pete Brook about Working Spaces Punishing Spaces, the exhibition and the book.

Originally posted on Prison Photography:


Body orifice scanner and surveillance camera, HMP Low Moss, 2012

UK photographer and artist, Jenny Wicks – working as an artist in residence at The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) at Glasgow University, the largest centre for criminological research in Scotland – set out a year ago to document spaces of said research. Invariably this meant photographing prisons. She photographed in two working prisons – Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Barlinnie and HMP Shotts. She also shot in a new prison, HMP Low Moss, prior to its opening.

I have posted before about Wick’s portrait project They Are Us And We Are Them also completed during the residency. Here, I’d like to focus on Wick’s prison interior photographs.

Wicks’ research broadly titled Working Spaces, Punishing Spaces: The Meaning and Construction of Place through Criminological Research sought to explore key boundaries: between innocent and guilty, researcher and researched.

“The conceptual frame for the project…

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The residency has now officially ended and I’m really looking forward to the exhibition and PV, it seems like a positive end to a unique experience. I can’t deny that the residency hasn’t affected me, but that is not a bad a thing, learning how to be fully ‘mindful’ is certainly one thing I think I’ve achieved. I hope the work I’ve produced reflects this in some way.

The exhibition is due to open late February at The Briggait Gallery, Wasp Studios, Glasgow. I’m prepping for this now and looking forward to it very much.

I’ve just designed the invite for the private view, which I’ll post on here next week. I’ve also made a wee book which is going to press next week. It’ll be a limited edition of 300. A copy of which will go to all the prisons I’ve worked with, SCCJR (of course) and a few other key people.

Originally posted on Prison Photography:

What’s the difference between us and them? What distinguishes those labelled as criminals from those without the label? The law has it’s definitions; sentences – in the sense of legal scripts and prison terms –  can give us details and legally defined facts, but other factors are at play. What role do images, particularly publicly available images, play? What about portraits? What about mugshots?

UK photographer and artist, Jenny Wicks – working as an artist in residence at The Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) at Glasgow University, the largest centre for criminological research in Scotland – spent nine months trying to answer these questions through her photography. And she challenged the mugshot.

Wicks’ research broadly titled Working Spaces, Punishing Spaces: The Meaning and Construction of Place through Criminological Research includes site (prison) visits, audio interviews, documentation, portraiture, a book (in process) and an exhibition (ongoing). I’ll write more about her…

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I spent a day at HMP Barlinnie installing the exhibition and it was quite some feat. I went back this morning to install the video I’d shot and edited and still no matter how many times I go back to the place it always leaves me feeling empty. The residency has been a fantastic opportunity and allowed me access to a hidden world most of us know nothing about or care to know, but one image that will stay with me from this morning is watching prisoners being liberated; plastic bags of belongings in hand, walking out of the big gates at Barlinnie with no-one to meet them. One thing I’m constantly reminded of is that it could be any one of us.

The Barlinnie show is obviously a very private one but I’m more than happy with that for a number of reasons, primarily that it is being shown first to the people who took part. This is important to me.

The exhibition consists of large format images exploring various crime and justice spaces, the portrait series, audio (prisoner narratives and Michel Foucault) and an installation set within the prison library (video). When I spoke to my friend Alex Boyd about my installation idea he said it reminded him of the gallows.

Here’s a sneak preview of The Gallows. The public show is in late February 2013 at The Briggait, Glasgow.

Thank you to Derek McGill and the staff at HMP Barlinnie.

I’m waiting on my framer to complete the work for the Barlinnie installation (early November) and I’ve pretty much finished the audio piece. I still need to get my hands on monitors that could be used as ‘surveillance’  TV’s but apart from that all seems to be under control. I am now preparing the first book dummy for Punishing Photography and plan for it be ready in time for the public show at The Briggait in late February 2013.

It’s a case of editing and re-editing and Blue Peter style sticking but it enables me to build the sequence, look for holes, see the flow. It looks terrible but at least I know it will work when I come to the final design.

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It’s four weeks before the Barlinnie installation and things are on track. I’m pulling together the final audio piece which for Barlinnie will be slightly different to the public show at the Briggait due to the nature of the spaces – size and technical specifics (no wi-fi in prisons). I proofed the prints yesterday and they are now in the process of being mounted and/ or framed. There are three print sizes, some of which will be part of an immersive installation – these will be bonded onto aluminum, the others hung as conventional pieces. We now have to build a structure to support the suspended installation as well as constructing panels for the pop-up gallery. It all seems to lean towards the industrial and reflects on the Marxist concept that prison is, “for teaching the discipline of production” (Melossi and Pavarini’s The Prison and the Factory (1981) ; Georg Rusche and Otto Kircheimer, Punishment and Social Structure, 1939).

I’m still in need of two surveillance monitors which are to take center stage, so if anyone out there has any hanging around ……

Body orifice scanner and surveillance camera, HMP Low Moss 2012 ©Jenny Wicks – Plate_1_prison_004

I have dates set for the public show which will be at the end of February 2013 at The Briggait, Glasgow. I’ve also been organising with Derek McGill (Governor) at HMP Barlinnie to install a scaled down version of the show within the prison. If things go according to plan I’ll be installing it in the conference center at an event that’s taking place there on the 7th November 2012 and it will also be installed in the prison library for the men at Barlinnie for two consecutive weeks.

It’s very exciting and a taster of what’s to come as I’m hoping that there will be three other prison exhibitions prior to the public show. I’ve already met with HMP Greenock and although this has yet to be confirmed it’s looking positive and I’m meeting with HMP Shotts in late October to confirm with them also. It’s a brilliant challenge, as each installation has to be site specific so. It’s also a real  privilege to be able to have it in a prison.

So, along with large format contemplative images of penal spaces and the portrait series there will be audio soundscapes and object art. I took my technician friend in to Barlinnie today to measure up and so I could sketch a detailed plan. I’m now in the process of making an image selection and preparing to print and mount and create a ‘pop-up’ gallery. I also need to do a final audio edit. I now just need two surveillance TV monitors which will be part of the installation.

Family link room, Low Moss © Jenny Wicks


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