Power Play Productions and Daddyless Daughters presents a groundbreaking exhibition of photographic portraits, letters and films from 30 former prisoners of HMP Holloway. The exhibition will run at the Copeland Gallery in Peckham 8-12 March over International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month 2023.

Showcasing 30 ex-prisoner contributors of different ages, races, classes, and gender-expressions, LAYERS: LOOKING INSIDE HMP HOLLOWAY is an immersive exhibition of photographs, films and letters that reveals the breadth of lives touched by the criminal justice system.

The photographs and films were shot on location by Joya Berrow at the derelict HMP Holloway site in north London, before demolition began this year. HMP Holloway was the largest women’s prison in Europe until 2016, housing many thousands of women over 170 years, from the suffragettes to Greenham Common protesters. The 10-acre site was acquired by Peabody in 2019 and is currently being turned into housing.

Women in prison are often depicted in stereotyped and voyeuristic ways. LAYERS overturns that. It platforms a group of 30 individuals who have gone on to be poets, funeral directors, mums, CEOs, boxers. It challenges reductive simple stereotypes of prisoners we see in films and on TV.

This exhibition is the culmination of a years-long community project centred around the Holloway site’s closure, working with former prisoners to explore what this site meant to them. LAYERS created access for former prisoners to return to the derelict site in a therapeutic and trauma-informed way, to tell their stories. This project was built around the agency of the contributors – they decided to return to Holloway, how they wanted to be depicted, what to wear, who to write to, what to say.

Showcasing thirty contributors, the exhibition shows the breadth of individual experiences found in the criminal justice system. At the same time, it also shines a light on systemic patterns of trauma, poverty, and abuse that disproportionately impact women prisoners: over half the women in prison report having suffered domestic violence with 53% of women reporting having experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse as a child (Prison Reform Trust).

It gives visibility to voices that very rarely gain access to speak for themselves on a national stage.


Private View
6-9pm Wednesday 8th March

PANEL: The Cost and Value of Your Story: How the media works with lived experience
7-9PM – Friday 10th March
This event explores the way that women in prison and crime stories are explored in popular culture, particularly on film and TV. The panel considers the ways that media culture might benefit from lived-experience consultancy, and how it can support and celebrate those who do share their stories in a trauma-informed way.
Reserve a spot

FREE Trauma-informed yoga session with Nicolette Wilson-Clarke FACCPH
10am Saturday 11th March
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FREE Lino Printing and Book Binding Workshop with artist Lucy Edkins
11am Sunday 12th March
Reserve a spot

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