Health Inside: Thinking About Prisoners’ Right to Healthcare is a new public art project due for exhibition in June 2018, text to replace with which will focus on health and welfare provision in Irish and English prisons.
Arts Council Open Call
Health Inside is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland as part of the Open Call programme. The Open Call programme funds one off ambitious artistic projects by some of Ireland’s leading artists and arts organisations. This project was selected for funding as one of eleven innovative arts projects by a panel of international judges.
The successful projects were announced by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphrey TD and the Director of the Arts Council of Ireland, Orlaith McBride, at the official launch of the programme in Dublin recently.
The art project will be led by Dr Sinead McCann, Visual Artist, who made the successful application as part of her role in UCD as Public Engagement Officer on the Wellcome Trust-funded research project, ‘Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000’. This project is being led by co-Principal Investigators Associate Professor Catherine Cox, Director of the UCD Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland, and Professor Hilary Marland, Director of the Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick.
McCann will work collaboratively to co-produce the public art project with UCD historians Associate Professor Catherine Cox, Dr Fiachra Byrne and Dr Holly Dunbar as well as other historians based in England, who are also part of the Wellcome-funded project.
A Public Intervention
This public intervention will take the form of a series of distinctive posters that will subversively occupy the private advertising space of two large billboards and several bus shelters in the Dublin 7 area. The posters will explore a range of historical and contemporary perspectives relating to Irish prison regimes and their impact on prisoners’ health.
Instead of seducing the public with shiny products or experiences to buy, these posters will offer humane and creative reflections on the provision of health in prisons asking key questions:
a) why does solitary confinement continue to be used as a form of management and punishment in prisons despite its negative impact on young and adult prisoners’ mental health having been evident since the 1840s?
b) why do ex-offenders still face obstacles when reintegrating into their families and society – from finding housing and employment to accessing addiction services – when these problems have detrimentally effected ex-offenders’ health on release for over a century?
In the context of current attitudes about prisoners, the artwork over the course of 12 days seeks to temporarily make these aspects of prison experiences more visible to the passer-by, prompting them to consider why they have endured.
You can read more on the project website: https://histprisonhealth.com