Unseen Women: Stories from Armagh Gaol

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


In 2006 the Prisons Memory Archive filmed 34 people who were connected to Armagh Gaol during the Troubles, including former prisoners, prison officers, teachers, chaplains, visitors, solicitors and welfare workers. The participants walked and talked their way around the derelict prison site, accompanied only by a camera operator, using the location as a stimulus for their memories. Armagh served as the only female prison in Northern Ireland until its closure in 1986 when all prisoners were transferred to Maghaberry Prison in Lisburn. At the height of the conflict, the number of female political prisoners grew from 2 in 1971 to more than 100 by 1976. The experience of women during the Troubles has often been overlooked, especially those connected to Armagh Gaol. Despite their significance, these stories have remained relatively unheard and unseen. For the first time, this exhibition brings to the public the stories of seven women: one prison officer, two Open University tutors, one loyalist prisoner and three republican prisoners. A 26min linear documentary containing six 5 minute extracts edited from each woman’s recording will run alongside their full recordings, which have been minimally edited for legal reasons or at the request of the participants. The edited film represents how, when short extracts are placed alongside one another, each woman’s individual narrative tells the wider story of the prison and the conflict. Showing the longer recordings alongside the extracts exposes the editing process within the linear documentary. The audience sees what has been left out, the footage that usually remains ‘unseen.’ We are inviting the audience to interrogate the process of filmmaking, levels of mediation in editing and how the presence of an editor changes the (re)presentation of the material. This exhibition allows us to (re)view competing interpretations of seven women’s relationship with the same space. Willingness to hear competing narratives is perhaps indicative of our society's ability to navigate its way through our contested past.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Jun 2011
EventUnseen Women: Stories from Armagh Gaol - Belfast Exposed / 23 Donegall St, Belfast
Duration: 14 Jun 201125 Jun 2011

Bibliographical note

Outputmediatype: Multi-screen video installation


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