Provoking emotion within a museum setting is hugely challenging but, when effective, can create a strong impression. In 2012 three educators working in the modern Holloway prison visited the museum. Standing before the WSPU Holloway prisoners’ banner they were so inspired by its story that they returned to Holloway determined to create their own prisoners’ quilt.
During a series of workshops held in each prison wing over several weeks, prisoners were each given a square of cotton and asked to express through embroidery, ink and paint their thoughts and hopes for 2012, the year when the ‘freed’ nation came together to celebrate the London Olympic Games and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Women on the Lifers’ Unit spent hours in their rooms embroidering the words of other women. In other workshops women chose totemic words for the quilt border representing what they hoped to find on release: 'cake', 'love', 'respect', freedom', 'family', 'sex' and 'money'.
Two years ago the 2012 Holloway quilt was gifted to the Museum of London. It's now on temporary display just metres away from the original 1910 Holloway prisoners’ banner. We hope that the poignant messages and stories, hopes and fears depicted on the quilt ensure it will have as much power and impact as the display of the historic WSPU Holloway prisoners’ banner.