There’s a new art exhibition at the Supreme Court and all the pieces are made by prisoners
Legal Cheek’s Katie King reviews PAPERWORK
This week, I visited a brand new art exhibition at the Supreme Court.
Located in an underused space next to the café, PAPERWORK is a display of about thirty pieces of art — mostly prints and sculptures — all of which have been made by offenders in prison, serving community sentences or in secure psychiatric care.
A collaborative project between the Koestler Trust — a prison arts charity — and Victim Support, the exhibition focuses on works which have reimagined paper as an art medium.
Highlights include a pineapple entirely made out of paper, a print of Cara Delevingne and a flower necklace.
A number of the items are on sale to the public with the proceeds being split between the two charities behind the exhibition. Prices range from £30 to £500 — the most expensive item being an impressive paper motorbike.
Featuring alongside some of the pieces are review snippets from victims of crimes who had taken the time to study the artwork and put to paper how the piece made them feel.
The exhibition also encourages feedback from viewers, asking visitors to fill in comment cards about their favourite works, which will be passed onto the artist.
My favourite piece was a paper model of two wine glasses and a wine bottle called Girls Night Out. Not only is the artistry impressive, but I couldn’t help wondering what prompted the anonymous female prisoner from HM Prison Eastwood to make it.
To a certain extent, all the pieces made me feel this way.
Visitors are given no inkling as to who the artists are beyond their location (HM Prison Whitemoor, Hydebank Wood Prison and Young Offenders Centre, etc). Studying the artwork, I’m sure many people there wondered who was behind such craft; whether they had had a background in art before being incarcerated; what they’d done to be to sent to prison; whether and in what way did making the art help towards rehabilitation.
As I pondered these questions, other visitors came in dribs and drabs to spend their own time with the pieces. Though our highest appeal court is currently in recess and all three of the courtrooms’ cause lists look very empty, there was still a healthy buzz of people wandering around the Westminster building.
In fact — despite the hush on the legal affairs front — a member of the dedicated Supreme Court team explained to me they’re just as busy now as they are during term time, largely because they are open to all regardless of the bench’s schedule:
We are both a working court and a tourist attraction; we are all things to all people. People are more than welcome to come and visit us even when the court is in recess.
Visitors are encouraged to explore the court building, have a bite to eat and learn more about the famous appeal court in a (permanent) Supreme Court exhibition. This features information about the court, interactive videos and an example of the ceremonial robes worn by the justices. It’s definitely worth popping down to.
There’s plenty to marvel at in the Westminster-based building, not least the new art exhibition. PAPERWORK is free to visit and will run at the Supreme Court until the end of the month.
If you don’t think you’ll be able to make it down there by then, don’t worry: the court hopes this will be the first of many exciting new art exhibitions hosted between its four walls.