Women inmates at the Malmesbury prison by Tracey Derrick
In August 2005, I started documenting the women inmates at the Malmesbury Women’s Prison. From an initial shyness around me and my camera, grew a warm and intimate experience between us. These women shared their life stories and experiences with me, reinforcing that each of us is an individual yet, we all have similar needs in our lives.
By the end of the year I wanted to give something real and positive back to them. Their daily lives in prison were uneventful and no rehabilitation programmes were being offered to them. I decided to add an educational component to my project and teach them some photography. I wanted to share my skills and empower them to become more independent once they re-entered society.
I then approached Pick n’ Pay, who generously supported my idea.
I ran an eight week programme, teaching the women to use a basic 35mm camera. None of them had had any prior experience and they produced unique images of their world inside prison, to us on the outside.
Thank you to the women inmates of the Malmesbury prison for sharing their lives with me, and the warders and prison authorities who facilitated this process. My sincere appreciation to the ‘vroue diens’ from the Dutch Reformed Church, Swartland North, for donating materials and wool to the inmates. And of course, thank you to Pick n’ Pay for making this all possible.
The positive outcome of this project is that it has set a ball rolling – it has made the community aware of the inmates and opened the door to further empowerment projects.
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