“Why we lock people up, how we do it and where we do it offer a profound insight into our society. I have tried to reflect on how criminality and prisons are seen, or not seen, in contemporary Britain while evoking the experience of individuals engaged in the intense psychological panopticon of therapy at Grendan. Through collaboration with the men and staff the work has been shaped or created by these processes and experiences, and by the environment of the prison itself” – Edmund Clark.The exhibition In the first room is an immersive installation consisting of a light box the size of a cell: it makes you realise the issue of overcrowding and the lack of space in which prisoners live. It really is claustrophoboic. On the surface of the light box are flowers and plants picked by Clark and prisoners from Grendon’s gardens: they appear fragile and you can see every vein running through them. In the next room there are eerie films of endless, empty corridors and confined spaces. Another highlight of the exhibition is a film which shows inmates partaking in therapeutic drama: through Greek tragedy and dressed in masks to hide their identity, the men explore the roles, experiences and feelings of perpetrator, and victim. Actors play out The Oresteia and ask inmates to identify themselves with Orestes, Agamemnon, and Iphigenia. Lines about ‘honour killings’ and ‘kingly responsibility’ resonate with gang violence, sexual assault and the pressures of extreme masculinity. Visitors can sit on the same chairs which appear in the footage, joining the circle of offenders’ group therapy. In another of the gallery rooms, black and white pinhole portrait photography hangs silently, projected onto bedsheets. The identity of the prisoners has been protected, and so they are marked by a blurred quality, creating questions about self. They can also appear intimidating and, at times, quite frightening. But the bedsheets, which move as viewers pass by, also appear delicate. Edmund Clark: ‘In Place of Hate’ is a free exhibition which will run from 6 December 2017 – 11 March 2018 at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery. To find out more about Edmund Clark you can visit his website here or visit the Flowers Gallery (who represent the artist) here.