Contemporary Artworks in Shepton Mallet Prison






British journalist, writer and broadcaster, John McCarthy responds to Luminara Star’s Posy work and Scott Sandford’s mirrored cell.


‘The Gathering’ – Cell 29

Late, one Sunday afternoon spent alone in B-Wing, I felt myself taken over by a sense of peace. Since that day, I have developed a relationship with the building based on a form of endearment.

Echoing the flower posy in Cell 22 (ground floor), The Gathering is a posy of wild plants collected from the hedgerows of Somerset on my daily dog walks. The posy is a gift from me to the building. It honours the circle of life and mother nature’s reclaiming of everything as a sacred process, which no human being or building escapes for ever.


‘Posy’ – Cell 22

The posy of flowers offer themselves up to this collaborative piece as a mirror of nature’s gentle, but powerful, force which seeps in through the walls and windows of the building. As they wither and die, we are reminded of the beauty that can be present in the process of decay.




Cleansing Ritual Performance accompanied by the Shepton Mallet Natural Voice Choir.



‘Skuggi’ (Shadow) – Cells 6,7,8 installation

Skuggi (Shadow) situated inside three Cells (no.s 6, 7, 8) and a cleansing/healing ritual performance. Cell 8 has the reputation of being the most haunted cell in B-Wing, with many prisoners assigned to the cell reporting ghostly experiences. Inspired by the ancient language of Icelandic rune staves (blood magic), I spell cast with embroidery.

The staves called ‘Prisoner Binding’, ‘The Lock Breaker’ and ‘End Strife’ were presented in a way that ensures a domestic reference within each of the cells. A final stave, to complete the spellcasting, was revealed as part of my Cleansing/Healing ritual performance on 28th September at B-WING’s ‘Speical Events’ day.

 “Each spell is a creative attempt to undermine any kind of authority and revolutionise the conventional conceptions of society, in order for the individual to regain power over his own existence. Perhaps it is indeed by casting these spells that a cognoscente removes the shackles of society and finds his true natural place in the universe” – Sorcerer’s Screed – The Icelandic Book of Magic Spells


















 Further information about the project and the artists involved can be found on the B-Wing website.



Artist Residency at ‘The Mothership’

The Mothership Artist Residency is run by artist Anna Best. Set in the middle of the beautiful Dorset countryside, the eco log cabin is a haven from the interruptions of the outside world.

Eating, sleeping and working in the same space, brought fluidity to my days spent at the Mothership. I found myself drifting from one activity to another with ease, something that doesn’t seem to happen in my home studio. The work, I had originally intended to focus on for the seven days, did not take place. Instead, a new dreaming and ideas settled in, encouraging me to experiment in unfamiliar ways with familiar mediums.


Inspired by the wildness of the surrounding forest and a copy of singer/songwriter/performance artist, Kate Bush’s book ‘How to be Invisible’ (a birthday gift from my mother) I played with text, sound and digital filters. Many of Kate Bush’s lyrics reference witches and witchcraft. I focused on two songs, The Hounds of Love and Waking the Witch. Working with selected lyrics and presenting them in contrasting realities of the forest outside my window and the digital world. Instagram was used as a virtual gallery, mapping my journey throughout the residency.

You Won’t Burn from Luminara Star on Vimeo.


I drove to the beach on a day when it did not stop raining. Setting up camp in my car, I ate takeaway chips while listening to Kate Bush songs on the cd player. Allowing tears to flow freely when they came and singing along when I wanted. Following the lyrics of songs word by word, marvelling at the nonsensical poetry of them.

Eye of Braille

Hem of Anorak

Stem of Wallflower

Hair of Doormat

Evenings, at the Mothership were spent listening to podcasts about mental health by Fearn Cotton, Russell Brand, Stephen Fry and Dawn French. This is something I rarely have the opportunity to do in my “ordinary” life.  It was a reminder of how important self-care is, especially, with the physical, emotional and psychological conflicts that can arise when being an artist and a mother.