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De Leng says:
“I have been allowed inside HM Prison Manchester, formerly known as Strangeways, to document its workings, staff, and prisoners who are willing. This is a delicate project built on trust, and follows in the wake of a TV documentary in the coming months. It is the first time that a photographer or camera crew have been allowed inside this prison since the 1990 riots. A lot has changed since then in a very positive way, and for my part I intend to document it honestly, and not in a grim trying to dish the dirt way. There is a lot of good to say, or show in my case.”
So far, de Leng – trying to avoid “bland corporate” style portraits – has focused on photographing the staff. She hopes to slowly bring more and more images of the prison to wider audiences over a period of time. Softly, softly. I’m intrigued.
Officer Alan Blocksidge, Butler Trust winner and MBE for his work rehabilitating drug addicts within HM Prison Manchester. Photo Credit: Stephanie de Leng
Inside HMP Manchester
De Leng’s photographs will be on show at Baltic Creative as part of LOOK2011, the inaugural Liverpool Photography Festival based around the theme “Is Seeing Believing?”
“It has been 21 years since the ‘Strangeways’ Prison riot, the 26 day roof top protest that changed the face of the prison system. The riot in April 1990 resulted in the partial destruction of the old Victorian wings and the injury of 147 prison officers and 47 prisoners. The disturbance inspired copycat riots at a number of other prisons, including HMP Bristol and HMP Dartmoor. A five-month public enquiry ensued, resulting in The Woolf Report which served as an ongoing blueprint for the reform of the prison system. ‘Inside HMP Manchester’ is intended to make the viewer set their normal prejudices and assumptions aside, and to look at justice from another angle.”
The exhibition is by appointment only. Except on May 13th, when Baltic Creative will be open between 6 – 9pm for the Light Night. Stephanie de Leng will be present to discuss her works. The Baltic Creative Center, 22 Jordan Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 0BW, UK. 0151 703 2005