Criminal Quilts

Have you heard that students from the University of Wolverhampton are to work alongside artist Ruth Singer and archives staff on a project inspired by photographs of women criminals held by Staffordshire Record Office? They were all arrested in the 1880s. Many of them are shown with the splayed fingers of both hands held against their chests, presumably because the authorities wanted to know if they had any missing fingers that could help to identify them. 

Installation shot of exhibition of Ruth Singer's exhibition Court Hands at the Shire Hall Gallery, Stafford, 2015.

Installation shot of exhibition of Ruth Singer's exhibition Court Hands at the Shire Hall Gallery, Stafford, 2015.

Ruth has been working with these images since being commissioned by the Shire Hall Gallery in 2012 to produce a series of six miniature quilts now on display outside the historic courtroom in Stafford. Her work is all about memory and personal stories, both real and imagined. She's really excited to be starting a new project taking this further, having just received funding from the Arts Council to develop new work, exhibitions and community partnership projects based around the original archival material relating to Victorian women criminals. Ruth will be working alongside staff from Staffordshire Record Office and students from Wolverhampton to produce a new exhibition and publication. They'll also run a seminar exploring the lives of these women in more detail. 

If you're interested, you can go along to the project launch at Staffordshire Record Office on Friday 8 September to hear more about it and see the archive documents which inspired it? Alternatively, you can follow its progress @CriminalQuilts