It’s not often that an exhibition fits so perfectly with our space in the Cells at Devonport Guildhall. Anna Goodchild’s final photography degree project, One Year: Transcending Prison Walls, opened on Monday 1st of July and is a poignant look at prison life examined via letters received from a friend & local preacher during his one-year incarceration in 2016 for a crime he committed in his teens.
Having had two unfortunate incidents breaking or losing her father’s cameras before 1979; Anna became more serious about photography after completing an MA in the history of art focusing on millennium politics & iconic structures. With grounds to continue this to PhD level Anna needed to gain more skills behind the camera so began working on a distance learning photography degree, during which time her friend, Ian, was incarcerated at Dartmoor Prison. Conversing via letters, Anna was shown a completely different view of prison life than the stereotypes we may believe on the ‘outside’; one where prisoners aren’t merely wasting their time and are instead using their skills & talents to undertake personal development.
Anna’s work in this exhibition highlights the stark contrast between inside & outside and the isolation in-between, as well as bringing attention to the passage of time. During his sentence, Ian was acutely aware of the passage of time, sometimes appearing very still and others abnormally fast. This is reflected in a film screening alongside audio recordings of Ian’s letters, with one cell installed as an actual prison cell complete with items issued to Ian during his stay at Dartmoor Prison.
This exhibition is meticulously crafted and intricately layered, giving visitors the opportunity to reflect on their own unintended preconceptions of prisoners through images, film, sound and poetry; all displayed in our Historic Cells which in Anna’s own words “couldn’t have been a better space to show the work”. Come and see this profound exhibition absolutely free at Devonport Guildhall, 9am-3pm Monday to Saturday from now until the 12th of July.