‘Health Inside: Thinking about Prisoners’ Right to Healthcare’?
Health Inside is a new public art intervention about the Irish prison system and prisoners’ health in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It takes form in a series of posters that subversively occupy the private advertising space of two large billboards and eight bus shelters on the North Circular Road, and surrounding area near Mountjoy Prison in Dublin 7.
Instead of seducing the public with shiny products, experiences or services to buy, Health Inside occupies these private advertising spaces inviting the viewer to reflect on prison conditions, the mental health of men and women in prison and the social problems that imprisonment can cause.
Over the course of twelve days Health Inside makes aspects of historical prison experience more visible to the passer-by prompting a consideration of why certain prison practices have endured. The eight posters displayed over ten sites are constructed using material from archival photographic . These include a child convict in Mountjoy Convict Prison (1857), the interior of a prison showing suicide-prevention nettings (1918), the interior of Dundrum Mental Hospital Dublin (1971), and street scenes from Dublin north inner city (1974 & 1978). These photographs are woven together with quotes from Irish historical sources; the 1867 Prison Inspectors Report, Correspondence to the General Prison Boards Chairman, 1885, the Prisoners Rights Organisation Report 1978, and The Jail Journal (1973-76). Combined they offer the public a series of thought provoking posters on healthcare in Irish prison during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The printed public display of these posters do not have any identifying reference to the artist, collaborators or their respective institution in order to side step and subvert the typical promotional use of these spaces.
10-22 November 2018, at various locations in Dublin 7.
Health Inside, is a collaborative public art intervention by visual artist Sinead McCann and UCD historians Catherine Cox and Oisín Wall. It is a public engagement output for the research project ‘Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000’.
Image credit: section of an artwork from Health Inside a public art intervention by visual artist Sinead McCann in collaboration with UCD historians Catherine Cox and Oisín Wall. Courtesy of the artist. Photograph of a convict in Mountjoy prison 1857. Courtesy of the Thomas A.Larcom Photographs Collection, New York. 1867.