Empty prisons are eerie places. Each prison has its own history, character, and stories to tell, but so too does every cell. Etched into their walls is the passing of successive generations of inmates each of who has carved their passing.
For the past decade Australian photographer, Brett Leigh Dicks, has been photographing abandoned prisons the world over. His latest project has seen the US-based photographer exploring decommissioned prisons and gaols in his homeland of Australia. The exhibition includes both historic and contemporary sites. While Port Arthur closed in 1877, Parramatta Correctional Center housed prisoners until 2011. Dicks said photographing the two locations offered two very contrasting experiences.
“There were still books and televisions and personal photographs in the cells at the gaol in Parramatta – the ins and out of prison life remained very apparent there – whereas Port Arthur featured the haunting rustic metal and stone remains of a colonial era penitentiary ” he observed. “The prisoner experience was obviously very different at each of those locations and so too are the resulting photographs.”
The exhibition is being staged in Maitland Gaol’s historic B Wing Cell Block and runs 16 December 2017 – 23 February 2018.