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UK HM Prison Reading, Novembe 2016 (Permission visit)

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Visited as part of the Reading art exhibition. For a full in-depth history visit the Wiki page.


I've never done a UK prison, certainly not one that's immaculate or recognisable as one. Sure, I've done Doftana in Romania, but that was a ruinous shell that was converted to a museum after its first closure in the 50s. So here we have Reading prison, a prime example of a Victorian prison (grade-II listed) designed by George Gilbert-Scott, the grandfather of Battersea Power Station architect Giles Gilbert-Scott in 1844. From 1992 until its closure in 2013, the prison was a Young Offenders Institution and local category C prison, housing offenders aged 18-21 who were guilty of a variety of offences from those such as repeat shoplifting and theft to even murderers in some cases! Since closure it is continually maintained and owned by the MoJ, used for filming (some of the unused cells are used to store lighting equipment and suchlike) and in this case an art exhibition which revolves around the accounts of prisoners such as Ai Weiwei (a letter to his daughter whilst under house arrest), poems and work of Oscar Wilde (its most famous prisoner) and more abstract displays such as those representing prison psychology. A deeply poignant display, I highly recommend anyone, explorer or not to visit this exhibition if they can.

Now there were a few people milling about, but it was nevertheless a great opportunity to explore the prison and take some shots. One of the hosts used to work with the NHS providing mental health services to the inmates, and told me a lot about life inside Reading, which was absolutely fascinating but at the same time sad to think that once you're in its a life sentence in terms of life prospects. That is, once you have a criminal record regardless of the offence you're doomed to a life of low-paid work and no real career.



























Being a permission visit there isn't a great deal I can say otherwise, but I hope its worth posting, if only to show what there is to see inside. It's on until December, so definitely do get down there while you can!

Love as always,


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Some in principle don't like permission visits. But I think: If an abandoned place is worth it, and can only be visited with permission - Why not use the opportunity sometimes?

In my opinion an interesting place and successful pictures. 

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It's worthy of its place in here for my money. I'd have jumped at the opportunity.

Fascinating in many ways and very nicely shot. 

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