HMP Manchester inmates create ‘Made In Strange Ways’ exhibition

For a fleeting two-hour window on Tuesday, May 23rd, an extraordinary exhibition will grace the railings of HMP Manchester on Great Ducie Street.

This unique showcase will feature thought-provoking artworks and prose crafted by prisoners, offering a glimpse into their world.

It will take place from Noon to 2pm.

Organised by the Bury New Road Heritage project, this event unveils the talents of eight long-term inmates who have poured their emotions onto canvas, exploring the intricate connection between the prison and the bustling Bury New Road that lies in its shadow.

Art Reflecting Road Icons: Inspired by the icons of Bury New Road, including influential figures like John Cooper Clarke, Bugzy Malone, Joy Division, and The Fall, the incarcerated artists have created captivating artworks.

One striking piece, entitled “Censorship,” represents a multimedia canvas that screams from every corner.

The creator, who wishes to remain anonymous, explains, “I crafted this artwork during my time at HMP Manchester.

“Before my incarceration, I had visited the Road for shopping, unaware of its history and the renowned musicians it produced.”

A Twist on a Bloody View: Another mesmerising artwork titled “The Bloody View” incorporates elements of John Cooper Clarke’s famous line, “The bloody view is bloody vile,” but with a fresh twist.

The style of Johnny Clarke is also emulated in verse that centres around the prison’s freedom-seeking birdlife:

“The bloody peregrine, She bloody screams, I even hear her in my dreams…”

Speaking about the project, HMP Manchester Governor Rob Knight expresses pride in utilising the skills and talents of the prison’s inmates, deeming it a privilege and an exciting endeavour.

Revealing the Hidden World: Stephen Kingston, the Bury New Road project co-coordinator, describes the experience of working with the prisoners as remarkable, particularly within the art room that once served as the chapel where a famous riot took place.

He shares, “Usually, it’s the passersby who catch a glimpse of the imposing prison walls and wonder what lies behind them. Through this exhibition, the prisoners offer a taste of their reality and shed light on what they know is happening outside.”

Louise Garman, an artist involved in the Bury New Road project, highlights the incredible talents of the artists within HMP Manchester.

She laments that most people will never have the opportunity to view these hidden works, emphasising the importance of the “Made In Strange Ways” exhibition in showcasing unseen and unheard talent.

Thanks to the support of the Heritage Fund, Granada Foundation, and Mary Monson Solicitors, the Bury New Road project successfully unveils the creative expressions of prisoners at HMP Manchester.

The exhibition, set to take place for just two hours on May 23rd, invites the public to witness the artistic prowess and profound perspectives that flourish behind prison walls.

By providing a platform for these hidden talents, the project challenges societal perceptions and highlights the transformative power of art within the most unlikely places.


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