Domestic Waste Thameside Industrial Estate 9 – 22 October 2021 Factory Road London E16 2HB
The UK has possibly the poorest attitude towards its prison population in Western Europe. We almost de-humanise those within it, from the moment the cell door is slammed behind them.
With that in mind, reformed prisoner, turned conceptual artist Gary Mansfield recreated a full-size prison cell in a standard refuse skip after receiving an invitation from The SKIP Gallery (alongside David Shrigley, Sarah Maple and Michael Johansson among others), to be a part of The Factory Project, a Museum scale exhibition in East London.
During research, Mansfield discovered a recent diagram of a prison cell in the *HM Prison Inspector’s 2017 report on UK prisoner’s living conditions, and was shocked to find the upper surface area of the skip he was to work on (1.8m x 3.6m) was actually larger than thousands of prison cells currently occupied by two adults, in HM Prison system (1.8m x 3.5m(6.3m2))!
Further research revealed an even more shocking realisation, when he found a Government **2014 Code of Practice, which stated that a dog of >35kgs (German Shepherd for instance) being housed must have the minimum floor area of 8m2, which equates to an additional 95cm added to the length of a prison cell holding two adults!
Mansfield decided to simply enlarge the Government’s own diagram to full-scale, replicate it in ply and sit it on the standard skip provided. The additional 95cm required to legally house a dog has subtly been shown in black tape, on the floor at one end of the skip.
The finished artwork gives the viewing public a visual reference of how our society houses two adults in a space [designed for one], often for 23+ hours per day. A visual reference that would resurface each time they passed a skip on someone’s drive. Mansfield hopes that by considering the conditions in which we keep those taken out of society, we may eventually erase the ‘lock em up & throw away the key’ attitude that prevents our criminal justice system from being as progressive as it should be.
“I am hoping the irony of a prison cell used to house two adults, being the same size as an everyday skip, can resonate with the viewer. People will forevermore envisage two souls having to live 23+ hrs a day in the skip they have just passed, creating empathy and positivity, by proxy.” – Gary Mansfield
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