October 6, 2016 - Artangel - Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison
October 6, 2016


Reading Prison, 2016. Courtesy of Artangel. Photo: Morley von Sternberg.

Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison
September 4–October 30, 2016

Reading Prison
Forbury Road
Reading RG1 3HY

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Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison
September 4–October 30, 2016

Reading Prison
Forbury Road
Reading RG1 3HY

Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

For the first time in its history, Reading Prison is open to the public for Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison, a major new exhibition by Artangel, which runs until October 30, 2016. Leading artists, performers and writers have responded to the work of the prison’s most famous inmate Oscar Wilde, the architecture of the prison and themes of imprisonment and separation.

The Victorian prison’s corridors, wings and cells are transformed with new work made by leading contemporary artists. Marlene Dumas, Robert Gober, Nan Goldin, Roni Horn, Steve McQueen and Wolfgang Tillmans have responded to the prison’s architecture and history. 

Displayed in the prison chapel is the original wooden door to Oscar Wilde’s cell, forming part of a new work by Jean-Michel Pancin. Pancin has cast a concrete plinth to exactly the same dimensions as one of the cells in the prison. At one edge of the plinth stands the door, borrowed from the collection of the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham.

Reading Prison, formerly known as Reading Gaol, opened in 1844 and was a working prison until 2013. Oscar Wilde was incarcerated there between 1895 and 1897, enduring the Separate System, a harsh penal regime designed to eliminate any contact between prisoners. Wilde’s imprisonment led to his last great works: De Profundis, an extended letter to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas written by Wilde in his prison cell, and "The Ballad of Reading Gaol," composed after his release.

Plans and prints relating to the Separate System, late 19th century mugshots of inmates, and work by Vija Celmins, Rita Donagh, Peter Dreher, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Richard Hamilton and Doris Salcedo will also be exhibited.

Each Sunday, writers and performers including Neil Bartlett, Ralph Fiennes, Kathryn Hunter, Ragnar Kjartansson, Maxine Peake, Lemn Sissay, Patti Smith, Colm Tóibín and Ben Whishaw pay homage to Wilde by reading De Profundis in its entirety in the prison chapel.

Writers from around the world—Ai Weiwei, Tahmima Anam, Anne Carson, Joe Dunthorne, Deborah Levy, Danny Morrison, Gillian Slovo, Binyavanga Wainaina and Jeanette Winterson—have composed letters from their own or imagined experience of a state-imposed separation from loved ones. Visitors are able to listen to and read these letters in prison cells throughout the prison.


Visitor information
Hours: Wednesday–Thursday 11am–7pm, Friday–Saturday 11am–8pm, Sunday 11am–5pm
Entry: Timed entry with strict capacity, advance booking recommended
Tickets: Tickets available on the door and in advance at artangel.org.uk/inside, on T 0118 960 6060

A small amount of material is not appropriate for children as it contains nudity and content of a sexual nature.

Public enquiries: info [​at​] artangel.org.uk / T +44 (0)207 713 1400

Disabled access: those with specific access requirements are encouraged to visit the Artangel website to read the full access statement or call the Artangel office for further information before their visit.


Oscar Wilde and Reading Prison: October lecture series 
Four international authorities talk about Oscar Wilde and his time in Reading Prison. 

Each one-hour talk takes place in the former chapel of Reading Prison.
In Prison with Oscar Wilde
October 6, 7–8pm
Peter Stoneley, Professor of English, University of Reading

Reading Gaol and the Architecture of George Gilbert Scott
October 13, 7–8pm
Gavin Stamp, Honorary Professor of the History of Architecture, University of Cambridge

Taking a Stand: Oscar Wilde, Art and Anarchism
October 20, 7–8pm
Anna Gruetzner-Robins, Professor Emeritus in History of Art, University of Reading

Blackmail, Sodomy and Sex Work: Oscar Wilde on Trial
October 27, 7–8pm
Joe Bristow, Distinguished Professor of English, University of California

Advance booking recommended. Ticket price includes entry to the exhibition on the same day as the lecture booked.  
Organised by the University of Reading in association with Artangel

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