My Shadow’s Reflection is part of a body of work made by Edmund Clark as artist in residence in Europe’s only entirely therapeutic prison environment, HMP Grendon.
Established in 1962, Grendon’s inmates must accept responsibility for their offences. They make a full-time commitment to intensive group therapy and exercise a degree of control over the day-to-day running of their lives through democratic decision-making. Through research and evaluation, evidence has demonstrated that Grendon has delivered lower levels of violence and disruption in prison, whilst reducing levels of reoffending after release.
You ask to be sent there to analyse and understand why you ended up in prison. You are held to account for your behaviour every hour of the day and must ask your community for permission for almost everything you want to do. The men you share your daily and past life with will vote you out if they question your commitment to the community or to your therapeutic process.
Over three years Clark’s work has been shaped by the prisoners, staff and the intense therapeutic processes and experiences at Grendon; and by the environment of the prison.
The book comprises architectural images of the prison, close-ups of flowers and leaves that grow within the prison and have been picked and pressed by Clark and images of the men made with a pinhole camera. Standing before the camera in a group situation for exposures of six minutes, the men talk in response to questions about their personal and criminal narratives. As they talk and move they shape the image of themselves. The men then respond, sharing what they think the image means to them and the outside world. In the exhibition the images are projected onto and through the green sheets the men sleep between. In this publication their words are printed on green pages in the centre of the book.
The publication My Shadow’s Reflection is another manifestation of the installation from the In Place of Hate exhibition held at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. Intended as a way of making something to last beyond the residency and exhibition, copies this book were given to men and staff who contributed to Clark’s work and sent to key criminal justice policy makers and opinion formers.