Artist of the Month – Rosie Reid

What is your experience of working in Scottish prisons – past and present?

I specialised in working within criminal justice settings as a student, my tutor at the time Jess Thorpe was an influential mentor to me and was the first person to introduce me to the world of arts in prison. From then I worked alongside Jess at HMP Perth assisting and then co-leading the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland drama group. I worked on two shows with the drama group and this gave me invaluable insight into long term project working and opened me up to the world of SPAN and the arts community working within prisons. Two years ago I joined Vox Liminis as the KIN project coordinator. KIN is an arts collective of young people who have experience of family imprisonment. Over my time at Vox I have had the opportunity to work alongside my colleagues on many different types of arts projects in prison and community justice settings.

 What role do the Arts have to play in the criminal justice sector and with people residing in Prisons?

The Arts have always played an integral role in ensuring voices are heard, although the arts doesn’t fit neatly within institutional contexts it is vital to have creative environments within these systems. I believe by giving people a creative access point to explore and play we can deepen meaning and allow people to discover things they might have never thought of before. The reflective nature of creating art allows people to truly own their artworks, harnessing their experiences and opinions to create something new.

What impact has your organisation work made whilst working in Prisons either with individuals or a larger group/sector?

Before I began working with Vox Liminis I was inspired by the quality of the work they created, I remember the first songs I heard from Distant Voices first album and the words from those songs still stick with me. Vox Liminis has worked within many prisons in Scotland to explore crime and punishment, I have seen first hand the quality experience that our sessions offer participants. Vox Liminis have formed many creative relationships with participants that for some have continued well after release from prison. For me the strength of Vox Liminis is that it aims to create a community for people to exist within and contribute to. Outside of prison we have worked with various participants from ex-prisoners, to prison staff, to support workers or judges. The list goes on. We believe in creating artistic processes for lots of different voices to exist. We believe in respecting everyone’s opinion and artistic contribution gathering all of these together to help us gain different perspectives to learn and build from.