• Lindy Richardson (Presenter)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


Textiles behind bars, a medium for political voice?
Textiles is the perfect medium for contemplative thought, for consideration, for time.Having worked on outreach projects in Scottish prisons for the past 2 years, I have witnessed the impact of slow stitching on the prison population grow from strength to strength.
Embroidery is slow,
embroidery takes time, embroidery passes the time, embroidery eats up time, embroidery is perfect to while away the hours locked up in a cell.
Telling this story is not the easiest either practically or politically. Many believe prisoners are locked up to be punished and do not deserve the privilege of art classes, of art materials, or indeed of an opinion.
We live in a world where our activities are constantly recorded and verified by the images we take on our phones, posted on social media and then approved by ‘likes’, which in turn justify our activities and achievements. Phones are banned in prisons. Activities go unrecorded. Time moves on and, in the tedium, days repeat themselves…again and again.
This paper does not benefit from the usual endlessly rich photos recording every workshop, put together in a visual feast of a PowerPoint to illustrate the story. In prisons no-one is allowed phones or laptop. Not teachers, volunteers nor prison staff. The paper/presentation is enriched by a handful of prisoner’s drawings, by the comments recorded in my notebook e.g. one woman thrilled to be allowed to take her pack back to her cell of one needle, 2 pins and a handful of threads. “I can’t wait for tonight. I will be stitching my wee heart out in my cell”. The paper will also present the wonderful legacy of these prisoners’ voices in stitch, as part of the large banner made by a community of individuals who were not actually able to meet nor participate in the event the project was designed for, paraded through our Capital city at the front of a march of 10,000 women and emblazoned on social media across the world for all to see in statements such as ‘Prisoners are powerless, Barred from voting and My voice should count wherever I am.’

Period24 Jan 2019
Event typeConference
LocationBolton, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • textiles, design, politics, art, embroidery, collaboration, enabling, prison