Joshua Bilton built a project to challenge “the fictions” of prisons in the UK.

Ectopia, a series of portraits place the subject in a dominant environment. Bilton’s skill is in evoking the dominance of space without presenting the prison per se. He’s staying away from the dark holes, cell tiers and bars with which we are usually presented. Bilton describes a more nuanced and inter-relational notion of enclosure.

What is more remarkable was his process. The British Journal of Photography writes:

[Bilton] started Ectopia during his BA at the London College of Communication. He finished it the year after graduation, writing to every prison governor in the UK and getting access to 45 inmates. The governors picked them out, and they varied from age 18 to 40+, and from category A (high risk) to D, but that was OK with Bilton – he felt that if he selected them, he’d be influenced by prison clichés. “In the end, some completely fitted in with my preconceived ideas, others completely broke them,” he says. “That’s the point – there is no type, no simplified idea. There’s no way of accessing what it is, you can only shift the perspective.”

Every prison governor in the UK!

All images © Joshua Bilton. Images via Nova Gallery