”Girls Behind Bars: Female Experiences of Justice”

Over thirty years ago, Eve MacDougall was imprisoned as a teenager for two years for breaking a window. Now she works with Together, a mental health support organisation, as an exhibition curator and liaison for the new project, “Common Sense Approach to Working with Women Offenders.”

Her recent exhibition, “Girls Behind Bars,” was held at the Together Our Space Gallery in London in 2011, but more curated shows are on the way. “Girls Behind Bars” showcases artwork made by female offenders and ex-offenders, but it also takes a critical and exploratory look at how justice is defined and experienced.

The wide range of works on display included traditional media such as sculpture and painting as well as more modern avenues, like video installation, sewn sculpture and found-object art. Literary works in the form of poetry and short stories were also exhibited. Some pieces display an individual narrative, such as “Dawn Breaking” and “Oh My God!” while others are collective narratives, e.g., those created by Pharmacopoeia, an artist group at HMP Holloway. One of MacDougall’s exhibited pieces, “Dollshouse,” addresses the naiveté and freedom of girlhood when juxtaposed with imprisonment next to adult women offenders, which was similarly experienced by other young teenagers at the same prison.

Together Our Space Gallery / Girlsbehindbarsexhibition / Source: Flickr

  • Restraint or Supplicant? ii (2011) by Jill AustinThe Hopeless (Situation)Anonymous drawing from prisoner at HMP HollowayAnonymous piece of writing by current prisoner at HMP HollowayGirls Behind Bars (dollshouse), By Eve McDougall (front view)Girls Behind Bars (dollshouse), by Eve McDougall (back view)Cell, by Eve McDougallDawn Breaking, by Sarah WilsonOMG!Portrait of a woman prisonerselectionofhandmadetoysbywomenundercareofmentalhealthunitathmphollowayEve McDougallBag made by HMP Holloway prisoner as part of Dose installationDose - bag being displayed alongisde Dose installation