An important new project highlighting how women prisoners are seen and understood with the ultimate aim of reimagining the justice system will launch at Photo London, alongside an online benefit auction hosted by leading global online art marketplace Artsy. The exhibition highlights that every woman is Someone’s Daughter and, by photographing women who have been stigmatised by the law, the courts and the media in the administration of justice, it will portray their stories in a fresh light. These women will be seen through the same lens as well-known women who are leaders in their field.
Someone’s Daughter, presented by The View Magazine, will see internationally respected photographers take portraits of women who have been affected by the criminal justice system, whether as prisoners, activists or professionals. By placing the images of former prisoners alongside professional women working within the criminal justice space, this exhibition seeks to change how formerly incarcerated women are seen and ultimately the way justice is served.
The participating women include gamechangers within the fields of politics, law, justice activism and broadcasting such as: Rt Rev Rachel Treweek (Bishop of Gloucester and Anglican Chaplain for Prisons), Helena Kennedy QC (Barrister, broadcaster, and Labour member of the House of Lords), Baroness Brenda Hale (former Supreme Court Justice), Bianca Jagger (Human Rights activist), MM McCabe (Philosopher Emerita KCL and Founder, Philosophy in Prisons), Anna Higgs Smith (Burlesque dancer and body-positive campaigner), Jen Reid (Black Lives Matter activist), Ivana Bacik (Irish Labour Party Politician), Lady Edwina Grosvenor (prison philanthropist) and Bidisha (journalist, academic, curator and author).
Those who have been incarcerated will also be photographed and given the opportunity to be rightly seen and understood as equals. Many of the prison leavers have experienced great trauma, mental health issues and challenging life conditions. Having been met with misunderstanding, a lack of support and an absence of positive options is often what led them into the criminal justice system. Yet, they are universally resilient, brave and deserving of fundamental respect, care and community. The exhibition inspires us to put ourselves in others’ shoes, to try and understand the experiences of ex-prisoners including Farah Damji, Francesca Fattore, Shivalee Patel, Whitney Clark, Clare Barstow (who is currently appealing a life sentence – In July 1992 she was convicted of the murder of Cathy O’Neil at the Old Bailey, despite there being no forensic evidence to link her to the crime) and Sue Wheatcroft among others.
The photographers participating in Someone’s Daughter: Jennie Baptiste, Nadav Kander, Poulomi Basu, Carol Allen Storey, Nick Knight, David O’Driscoll, Hannah Starkey, Craig Easton, Felicity Crawshaw, Wendy Carrig, Alba Duque, Sara Bennett, Billie Scheepers, Gavin Smith, Kristina Varaksina, Amelia Troubridge, Harry Borden, Fiona Freund, Conor Horgan, Emily Garthwaite, and Laura Pannack.
Sue Wheatcroft comments on the journey that led her to prison and the reforms she would suggest from first-hand experience:
“At the age of 18, I chased an abusive boyfriend into the street with a kitchen knife. After months of physical and mental abuse, I finally cracked. For this, I was given a conditional discharge. My next offense was thirty-six years later, when a kitchen knife was found in the back of my car. I kept it there so that I could cut up food for my seriously disabled wife when calling for a takeaway to eat in the car. For this, I was given a twelve-month prison sentence.
In court the judge said that, because of my first offence, I had a propensity for knives so I was dangerous. I also had a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and I believe this added to the judges sentencing decision…I wasn’t dangerous, I was ill.”
So, how can the CJS be improved? For me, education, training, awareness of the disadvantages people face would be a good start, and the involvement of those with lived experiences in this, is imperative…Perhaps we should stop putting all the blame on ‘the system’ and concentrate on the providers, those who deal with those at risk.”
The exhibition and auction are devised to raise awareness and funds for the social enterprise’s continuing work to better the lives of incarcerated women, and reform the justice system. It presents the incredible opportunity to acquire original fine art photographs by celebrated photographers, whilst also helping to raise money and awareness for the vital campaigning and advocacy work for incarcerated women.
These powerful images will form an historic collection of works, documenting women at the heart of justice, the arts, philosophy, academia and activism. Following the exhibition at Photo London, Someone’s Daughter will then be shown at the National Justice Museum, FiLiA and the Palace of Westminster.
Evidential reports show that women are being let down by the criminal justice system and that something needs to be done to change it. Over 80% are incarcerated for non-violent offences. Some have undiagnosed mental health problems. Others are the victims of domestic violence or abuse. An estimated 17,500 children per year are separated from their mothers when women were imprisoned for nonviolent crimes such as non-payment of the TV Licence fee.
Furthermore, women from ethnic minorities and black women in particular suffer disproportionately in the current, outdated criminal justice system. Firstly, by older members of the judiciary who might perceive their minor crimes as delinquency based on prejudice and stereotypes, handing down harsher sentencing. And secondly, within the penal environment itself where their cultural differences are often unrecognised leaving them to feel invisible in a system designed to protect them.
Someone’s Daughter at Photo London has been made possible by Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers. Carl Buckley of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers comments: “Since its conception in 2016, Guernica 37 has been driven by the desire to advance the mechanisms of justice, and to broaden platforms for accountability, across domestic and international criminal and human rights law, particularly for those that might be seen as forgotten. We hope that through supporting Someone’s Daughter, a greater sense of humanity is shared for the women who have grappled with the criminal justice system, and light shone where there only seems to be shadow.”
Photo London 2021 : Someone’s Daughter – Reframing Women in Criminal Justice
Presented by The View Magazine
Open to the public 9-12 September, 2021
Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
Further Exhibitions :
Palace of Westminster 15 September – 15 October 2021
FiLiA 16-17 October 2021
National Justice Museum, Nottingham December 2021
All works will be available to view and bid on via Artsy from 1-15th September