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Project partner Koestler Arts announce our exhibition

We’re delighted to be partnered with Koestler Arts to help the Doing Porridge project reach a wider audience. This year, Koestler Arts celebrates the 60th anniversary of their annual Awards, demonstrating creative work from people in criminal justice settings including prisons, young offender institutions and probation, as well as secure hospitals, secure children’s homes, and immigration removal centres. The Awards encourage participation in the arts, providing an opportunity for thousands of entrants each year to share their writing, music, design, and visual artwork.

During the Doing Porridge project, we will be holding arts workshops as part of our data collection. These will be facilitated by fabulously talented artist, Erika Flowers, who has herself had work exhibited in previous Koestler Awards. Art from these workshops will be showcased in an exhibition jointly hosted with Koestler Arts next year, alongside selected submissions from entrants to this year’s Awards submitted from anyone identifying as a woman.

In partnering with the Doing Porridge project, Koestler Arts have set this year’s themed category as ‘Taste’. Announcing our partnership, they have noted that:

“Food is often a popular topic for Koestler Awards entrants and for this year’s Koestler Awards we have made our themed category ‘Taste’ to encourage even more entries.”

We’re hugely excited to be collaborating with Koestler Arts and looking forward to sharing more details of the exhibition later in the year. In the meantime, please head over to Koestler Art’s project page to read more about our collaboration and the 2022 Awards.

25 Jan 2022

Food in Prison

Report from a Roundtable Discussion held at the BSC conference Vicki Harman The British Society of Criminology conference was held at the University of Surrey 29th June-1st July 2022. The aim of the conference was to enable delegates to critically engage with research and debates within contemporary criminology at a time of rapid social andContinue reading “Food in Prison”

Prison Visits:  A meaningful space to reunite ties between prisoners and their loved ones

Ellie Coburn and Sophie Pavitt Prison visits can be of great importance, including in supporting rehabilitation and incentivising people in prison to maintain good behaviour. Visits can also support healthy relationships with family networks, which may improve prisoners’ chances of rehabilitation. Factors such as having a safe place to live on release and emotional andContinue reading “Prison Visits:  A meaningful space to reunite ties between prisoners and their loved ones”

The Art of Qualitative Research: The Use of Artistic Methods in Prison

By Amelia Hoy What are artistic methods? In recent decades researchers have begun to explore how artistic methods can be used to conduct research (Leavy 2014). Artistic methods involve the researcher using art-making as their primary method during research (McNiff 2011) such as visual art (e.g. painting), literary forms (e.g. writing) and performative forms (e.g.Continue reading “The Art of Qualitative Research: The Use of Artistic Methods in Prison”

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Introducing our first Blog Post

17th September 2021

We are pleased to announce the launch of Doing Porridge: Understanding women’s experiences of food in prison, an ERSC funded project undertaken in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey.

According to a 2016 HM Prison Inspectorate report, food in prison is vital to prisoners’ physical, mental and emotional well-being, not only for nourishment but for providing structure to the day. It is also a crucial point of interaction between staff and those who are incarcerated. As such, our objectives are to:

  • explore the relationship between food and social identities (such as gender, social class, ethnicity, religion, nationality);
  • understand and explore the different spaces where food is consumed in women’s prisons;
  • explore the extent to which women have opportunities to show agency in their food choices and practices;
  • examine the ways in which food is used as ‘illicit currency’;
  • assess the extent to which food is a source of discontent and dissent among prisoners;
  • make policy and practice recommendations to improve food practices in the female estate.

The fieldwork for this research will take place in four women’s prisons and the team will use a mixture of methodologies to engage with the women, including focus groups, qualitative interviews, observations, diary-keeping and an art workshop. We have partnered with Koestler Arts – a charity that promotes creativity in prisons – to exhibit art made during the workshops. This will allow us to communicate with audiences outside of academia, and to encourage wider interest a debate about the quality of food in prison in the country. The exhibition will be open to the public, and those unable to attend will be able to view it via a ‘virtual tour’ of the exhibition uploaded onto the project website. In addition, Koestler Arts have set ‘Taste’ as the topic for their themed category within their annual competition, leading to ongoing impact from the research. This will be an art competition which will be open to all prisons and the chosen finalists will be able to display their work at the planned exhibition.

The research will be supported by two advisory groups, one comprised of prison governors, academics and third sector organisations, and the other made up of women from the four prisons we will be undertaking fieldwork in. Both groups will meet regularly to advise and oversee the direction of the research, as well as being an important audience for the dissemination of the research findings.

In order to keep a wide range of audiences up to date with the development of the project, we will be sharing information on our website, through this blog, on social media and through a podcast.

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