Quarry Bank and Styal Prison
Styal Women’s Prison is located close to Quarry Bank in the village of Styal. The prison offers a variety of activities that focus on addressing offender behaviour and equipping women to deal with the challenges of life after prison. Artist Lauren Sagar has been leading workshops with several women at the prison to engage their creativity and to explore what work means to them.
These workshops have focused on the meaning of work in relation to women, prisoners and artists, and they found essential parallels: resourcefulness, practical skill, bravery and being undervalued and overlooked.
The artists used items readily available to women in prison such as tampons and sanitary towels to develop their initial piece.
At HMP Styal there are trained ‘Listeners’ who provide prisoners with a safe space to talk and share their feelings. Listeners are trained by Samaritans and are available to prisoners 24 hours a day.
Lauren and the group of artists worked together to create drawings that could be adapted and added to by other prisoners not involved with the initial project. Some women in the prison are at risk of self-harm or in need of stress release and the opportunity for them to get creative can be a comforting distraction.
These drawings are being developed into a comforting blanket to be used by women in crisis whilst they share with the Listeners in prison. The blanket will be created from these pieces of artwork, along with pieces of cloth made at Quarry Bank during demonstrations in the mill.
The blanket will become part of the exhibition before being donated to the Listeners group for practical use during listening sessions.