The Scold’s Bridle

I am not perfect, this light does not belong to me * I feel like I am living in a circle * Freedom is  a must, prison is no life for anyone and I always leave homeless too * Prison does not work it just gives me a break so when I get released I can take more drugs * You have no control over anything, it’s out of your hands * I feel like a bird that has had its wings clipped, all I want to do is fly away from here * Will she ever know my name? * I will steady the stars that wish to fall * I want to live and I mean really live again * The simple things in life mean so much when they are taken away * It breaks my heart everyday I’m apart from beautiful baby girl, especially behind bars pom lock and chain F@@K HMP * The soul is an angel to be kept pure, untainted and free * I miss you * A lot of young girls come into isolation and they can’t stand the pressure, so they take the sheets and rip them up, this is what they hang themselves with, they don’t tell people about these but the majority in isolation have seen them cut people down from the sheets, a couple of pregnant girls too * I have always loved you fierce * I miss being able to hug and kiss my son, I miss the loving stare of my cats * The system isn’t built on rehabilitation but on warehousing * It is in prison that a woman despite her spiritual rituals comes to know that she is entirely alone in the Universe * How can we recover our imaginations for dreaming? * The more I learn the freer I feel in silence * The floor I lie upon is just like all the world, a cold hard surface * Where is my mind? * There is nothing at the end of the rainbow * Our sentences tend to be harsher than men convicted for the same crime, it’s because we’re seen as fallen women * I have no voice * The smiles and daydreams have left me and strength is all I know * I have never got used to the invasive touch of hands that assert the right to paw my body * We had to ask to sit down, I guess you would call it institutionalised * Who are you to judge? * Out of this mouth wisdom, into this mouth, fist. Turn away to comfort while we writhe and rise. The secret of resistance is joy.

These words were written by women in prison in the UK and USA. I created an art installation called The Scold’s Bridle as a collaborative project with women in prison or with experience of prison. The Scold’s Bridle is a metal sculpture about two metres tall and around a metre wide, these words are inscribed and painted across it. An article on The Scold’s Bridle is in the next Women in Prison magazine. The Scold’s Bridle was on exhibit in Greenwich Gallery this Spring.

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole & Gringos Neverending Whiskers

I was falling down the rabbit hole so I went to see some art. I am falling down the rabbit hole because I am at one of those phases where the world seems to tip a little on its axis an’ you walk a bit squint. Thankfully my friend Bob rescued me by coming to visit from Edinburgh and we went to see this exhibit by Ed Rushca in the Tate on Saturday, I liked this one an’ the one below. I got my photo taken next to this by Bob then we had a day down the river on Sunday which was lush. I didn’t know who Ed Rushca was but I liked a lot of his picks, simplicity but sometimes simplicity is so much more, Dirty Baby was made in 1977, year I was born, I like it. I like this one as well. Check out more of his work here: /#mce_temp_url#

Bob is immortalised on CD in the Beat Anthology which just came out. I read it in bed with coffee an’ more coffee then toast and Gringo thought the CD was pretty fuckin’ good too. I gave Bob a cartooned copy that I did myself for his birthday an’ he was pretty chuffed which makes me happy. Meanwhile Gringo’s whiskers never stop growing. He has them everywhere the older he gets, out his chin, huge spiky eyebrow ones, chest whiskers, some on the back of his legs. I have lived with Gringo for sixteen years now, twice as long as I have ever lived with any human being ever. He has seen all things. It’s why he needs to sleep so much. One of my favourite sounds in the world is Gringo snoring. You think you might love something only so much, or get to a level an’ stick with it but then you find, love keeps growing an’ the more you know the more miraculous an’ precious – the good things are. I am dedicating The Dead Queen of Bohemia – my next collection of poetry, to him and Quita, Quita died last year, I stroked her right up until her last breath an’ it felt funny reassuring her that it was okay to die when we don’t know what’s out there or what happens on the last breath. That made me consider the Universe and The Deathwish Comets which I wrote an epic play about. I might drag that one out the vast pile of boxes that make up my writing history. I began The Panopticon an’ I am trying to handle it lightly you know, real lightly – great art, they say, isn’t meant to be grabbed at or pinned down or fretted out of existence. There is no balance in it. It’s like falling down the rabbit hole but I go willingly, it’s the only place I ever knew how to be, you know, just be, or cared not so much that I didn’t! It’s all beyond me really, I’m just hitting free-fall so The Panopticon can breathe. I miss playing music a lot this week. It was a first love. That an’ the words. Playing in bands kind of saved me, it was all kinds of wonderful an’ muchness of wrong but I miss it, I have been singing a lot again lately an’ have to get a side project to soothe me. S’all needles an’ pins people, shimmy some, for Jackie De Shannon – produced by Phil Spector with the Cookies on backing vox, an’ of course Gringo’s Neverending Whiskers xx

an’ somewhere in the midst of this I handed in my final essays, degree no more! My Scold’s Bridle exhibition has an opening night on the 19th of May, Stephen Lawrence Gallery, Greenwich 6-8pm. It is so good to see a piece of art I’ve worked so hard on, up on a wall in a gallery like it should be. One or two women who contributed their words said they may drop by so I hope to get a chance to say hello, free drink too, free drink is always the best kind, salut people, an’ slanjiva!

The Scolds Bridle, How Can We Recover our Imaginations for Dreaming?

I have been sculpting a Scolds Bridle for three months. It is a political artwork that symbolises the historical silencing of women convicted of crime. It has been adorned with words by women in prison or who have been in prison, in the UK and USA. Contributors include Women in Prison UK, BeyondMedia USA, Clean Break, HMP Bronzefield and Women and Prison – A Site for Resistance. The Scolds Bridle should go on exhibit at Greenwich Gallery in late Spring and I will cover the project more fully then. Meanwhile here are some early images of it.