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FACT Unveils new artworks created with those affected by the UK Justice System

Throughout 2024, FACT presents the outcomes of Resolution, a major multi-year art and research project launched with support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University.

The project invites four artists to collaborate with participants who have experiences within the justice system, presenting art as a space for dialogue and representation and exploring how art can affect public attitudes and influence decision-making.

FACT’s work within the justice system traces back to 2014, with a significant emphasis on exploring the complexities of veteran identity and their experiences within the system. Since 2019, FACT’s Learning team has worked with artists Melanie CreanKatrina PalmerAin Bailey, and Amartey Golding in prisons across Liverpool, Rochdale, and York. Incarcerated individuals and their families, prison staff, policymakers, and criminology researchers took part in the project, which now culminates in the presentation of four new artworks across a series of exhibitions at FACT. Three of the four commissions are currently on display, with the final commission to be revealed in August 2024.

From 1 March until 2 June 2024, FACT presents artworks by Melanie Crean and Katrina Palmer as part of the group exhibition, On the other side. The works make visible the complex formation of individual and collective identities shaped by the landscapes of prison and incarceration, and encourages visitors to reconsider the relationships between those who hold power and those who are affected by it.

FACT Unveils new artworks created with those affected by the UK Justice System

Crean presents a multi-channel video installation titled A Machine to Unmake You (M2UY) (2019-2024), collaborating with staff and incarcerated veterans at HMP Altcourse in Fazakerley, Liverpool. Through workshops, Crean facilitated discussions centred on the participants’ life experiences—from joining the armed forces to attempting to transition back into civilian life and facing incarceration. Presented in FACT’s ground floor gallery and foyer, a series of videos depict silent performances exploring concepts of time, the body, labour, and mutual aid among the men.

Palmer presents Sentences (2023), a book of texts produced in collaboration with individuals across the justice system, including prison officers, prison education professionals, academics in the justice field, and people who are currently imprisoned. Through a series of writing workshops, participants were invited to contemplate the ‘blank space of the page’ as a site to imagine alternative liberties and possibilities. The publication is available to read at FACT.

FACT Unveils new artworks created with those affected by the UK Justice System

From 19 April – 7 July 2024, FACT welcomes a new commission by artist, composer and DJ Ain Bailey titled, FOUR (2024). The immersive installation and audio work explores the concept of ‘sonic autobiographies’ through collaboration with imprisoned men and their families at HMP Buckley Hall in Rochdale. Through several workshops, the participants listened to music and sounds that were significant to them, sharing their individual and connected memories, to ultimately create their own compositions.

In the gallery, Bailey presents a final composition including some of the sounds and rhythms from the men’s audio pieces. The gallery is redesigned in response to the time Bailey spent in the visitor centre at HMP Buckley Hall, echoing her experience of gaining access to the prison, and observing the architecture of the institutional complex. Imagery shared and discussed in the group sessions, such as a family pet, the Liverpool and Everton Football Club emblems, and Alder Hey Hospital, are brought into the physical space through the wallpaper design. Excerpts from the shared conversations between the participants and their families during the workshops line the corridor leading into the installation. The work is on display until Sunday 7 July 2024.

FACT Unveils new artworks created with those affected by the UK Justice System

In summer 2024, FACT will present the final Resolution outcome by artist Amartey Golding. Collaborating with imprisoned men at HMP Altcourse, Golding constructs with chainmail to explore stories of trauma, lived experiences, and societal behaviours. The installation at FACT features a new chainmail sculpture crafted by Golding and the participants, accompanied by a film documenting the men’s journey carrying the sculpture through HMP Altcourse, where it will be presented until going on display in the gallery.

Resolution’s impact extends beyond the four major exhibitions, with vital resources, events, and documents produced to amplify the project’s reach. In addition to online and in-person events, FACT plans to release several free audio resources recorded with project participants and artists. Publications, including Katrina Palmer’s Sentences (2023) and Melanie Crean’s exhibition catalogue, will be distributed to participants, associated prisons, and made available to the public.

Collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University continues, with the project’s long-term collaborator, Dr. Emma Murray (Reader in Military Veteran Studies and Criminologist-in-Residence at FACT), set to produce a paper on the intersection of social science and art, as well as the project’s findings. Together, FACT and Dr. Murray redefined the role of an embedded researcher, with Dr. Murray being pivotal in the development of the programme and disseminating research across penal reform campaigners, criminology researchers and decision-makers. The next edition of FACT’s journal will feature essays and long-form articles from Dr. Murray and FACT’s Learning team, focusing on the project’s insights, methodologies, and outcomes.

Lucía Arias, Learning Manager at FACT, said: 

“It is so exciting to see the work of these last six years coming to life in the gallery with Melanie Crean, Katrina Palmer, and now, Ain Bailey. A special thanks to the participants, collaborators, artists, and current and previous FACT colleagues for their trust and patience. We hope the exhibitions and publications give people a chance to reflect on the space each of us occupies as part of the same society and to consider how we are determined not only by our lived experiences, but also by how we can listen to and support each other. I think I speak for the rest of the Learning team when I say these projects have altered our practice and how we see collaboration in the centre of an art gallery.”

Dr Emma Murray, Reader in Military Veteran Studies at Liverpool John Moores University and Criminologist-in-Residence at FACT, said: 

“Resolution is a truly unique artistic programme and a source of extensive learning for justice sector research, knowledge exchange, and public engagement. During my time as Criminologist-in-Residence at FACT, I have had the privilege of observing firsthand the tireless enthusiasm of the Learning team in ensuring that artworks created with justice-affected communities were exhibited in the gallery. It is a real privilege to see that vision realised. Each artwork tells us something powerful about humanity, and I will be forever altered by this experience. This experience has taught me an important ethical praxis that will guide me throughout my career—a praxis where generated learning, a commitment to lived experiences, and methodological innovation go hand-in-hand.”

READ MORE: DANIEL MEAKIN TO HOST A MONTH LONG EXHIBITION

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