Search This Blog

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Anne Frank Exhibition visits HMP Bronzefield for first time

On The Landing, HMP Whatton, Highly Commended
Award for Craft - Courtesy of the Koestler Trust
 The new year started with our first visit to Women’s prison HMP Bronzefield in Middlesex. A very similar layout to HMP Peterborough, the exhibition was situated on Main Street – a large open area in the middle of the prison, and a place where the majority of prisoners and staff pass through daily. The exhibition itself looked particularly good in this location – leading around the trees that are the central feature of Main Street.

Exhibition tours were organised for both mornings and afternoons, and were presented by an extremely enthusiastic and committed group of women throughout the 3 weeks that we were there. I was extremely impressed by not only the women’s presentations but also by their tough resolve. These weeks were some of the coldest this year, and main street was particularly draughty when doors at each end were opened – but they never whinged. They just got on with things, even though one of these ladies was in a wheel chair and could not move around to get warmth. A great feeling of camaraderie!

Eva Schloss was our key speaker and completely overwhelmed the large audience who attended her talk. This was followed by an extraordinary question and answer session, with one of the prisoners, somewhat lost for words and in total admiration, declaring “Eva – we love you (man!) Thank you….. for coming here”

Leah Thorn also brought her creative writing workshops to Bronzefield, and produced some wonderful poems from the groups that worked with her. It always amazes me the depth of feeling and self examination that she brings out in the people that she works with. Leah is no stranger to Bronzefield and was at one time their Writer-in–Residence, so she very much enjoyed returning there, working with the women and meeting former colleagues.

American actress Susan Stein has recently taken her one-woman play ‘Etty’ into prisons in the USA, and was invited to perform at Bronzefield while she was in the UK working with the Anne Frank Trust. Her performance received some rave reviews, and it is hoped that she will be able perform here again when she returns to the UK. For more information, please contact Susan.

The exhibition was then taken out of Main Street and set up in the Visits Hall inside the prison so that some of the women’s families and friends could be with them for the Closing Ceremony. This ceremony is always a very poignant occasion when we are able to celebrate the achievements of the guides, and where they were presented with books and Anne Frank certificates in appreciation for all their hard work.

It has been fantastic to hear that one of the guides is now working as a teaching assistant within the prison because of her newly found skills in presenting the exhibition.

'My Life Journey'

My life was the colour of mist,

ever changing with the days,

never in the same place or time,

up, down, side by side, away

                        within the mist.

It was a waterfall in full flood,

a handshake, a mountain range.

It brushed on skin,

a shiver of heat, like the feel of desert sand

against your feet

                      in early mornings.

My life lived

                   in the desert of deserts

by Jo

No comments:

Post a Comment