This exhibition was created by prisoners at HMP Leicester, HMP Stocken and other regional prisons as well as those serving community sentence as a part of the Unlocked three-year programme. This was the second of three annual exhibitions. Soft Touch Arts has worked with prisoners and offenders on behalf of the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust. De Montfort University and Nottingham Trent University are undertaking an associated research project into the positive ways prisoners are creative. The research is interested in how art helps prisoners wellbeing and how they resettle back into the community.
The exhibition was spilt over two sites. At Soft Touch Arts, the main focus was to showcase the artwork created by those currently in prison or in the justice system. This work consisted of paintings, drawings and sculpture. There was also a virtual reality headset which allowed visitors to see the inside of a cell at HMP Leicester while listening to the experiences of people who have actually spent time in them.
The other part of the exhibition took place at New Walk Museum (now called Leicester Museum), where visitors could look inside a realistic prison cell which was designed and built by prisoners at HMP Stocken. Inside this they were also able to listen to music, poetry and conversations which were recorded during sessions at HMP Leicester. Prison style phone booths were built so that listeners could hear the voices of real prisoners talking about their experiences and projected animations on the museum walls brought their drawings and poems to life.
The Unlocked 2 exhibition had to close early because of the COVID-19 lockdown, however there had already been many visitors. A video of the installation can be seen here and a virtual tour of the individual pieces of artwork here. You will need to register with the Artsteps programme. Click on paintings in the exhibition and you will be able to hear audio from the exhibition installation.