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On the 4th of February of this year, the Culture Colony team made the long trip to the Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre in Cwmbran.

On this trip, we filmed Ruth Singer's ‘Criminal Quilts’ exhibition as well as livestreaming an interview between Llantarnam Grange’s director, Louise Jones-Williams and the artist herself. We livestreamed the interview as part of an exclusive online opening for the exhibition. This enabled people to view the exhibition, who might otherwise would have been unable to visit the in person opening a few hours later. It was a great opportunity for the artist to voice her inspiration and process live with her works surrounding her in the gallery. 

Felix (Left) and Kieron (Centre) preparing for the livestream at Llantarnam Grange.

Ruth Singer is a textiles-based artist who in this exhibition used a range of archival material from Stafford Prison during the period between 1877-1916. The material is of female convicts who were locked up for a variety of petty crimes from stealing to public displays of drunken behaviour. Ruth’s sympathy for these women shines through in her work, conveying the troubled and isolated lives that these women led through their stories and portraits. The work in the exhibition ranges from embroidery and digital print, to a physical fabric book containing case studies of some of the photographed individuals.  

In this interview, Ruth goes into the interesting evolution of her practice going from studying in museum's for both of her degree's to eventually going on to work in the museum sector until the age of 30. It was at the age of 30 that she quit her job and started making art, this time in the form of textile based commercial products such as cushions, bags and scarfs. After this she started researching textiles and slowly began to develop her skills in storytelling and narrative work. She would later receive a commission by the Shia Hall Gallery in Stafford, where she was had to make something related to the building. With the gallery originally being a courthouse fit with a courtroom and various cells, it would go on to bridge the gap between Ruth and her eventual enamour for the portraits of the female inmates. In 2016, she entered into the 'Fine Art Quilt Master' competition which she went on to win. After this she continued her studies and research into the female inmates, developing her collection of work into what it is today.

One of Ruth's larger pieces was this wearable quilt filled with portraits of female prisoners from Stafford Prison between the years of  1877-1916.

The exhibition is on until 02/04/22. Here is a link to the film, be sure to give it a watch: click HERE