Paintings of Victorian Prision Scenes

This below is a scene from a house of correction and these prisoners are under something known as the silent system. This element of control in the image is reminiscent of a class room. which magnifies the point that society is much like prisons, particularly the school system. Following influence from the work of Helen Verhoeven the painting of a scene appeals to me, this being very much a scene of order.


Here I had started painting this image on A1 paper using oil paints, I don’t want the individuals to overpower the environment like I would normally, I want a steady balance. I feel I have done this quite well here, this is an initial layer and I am going to build on this, however I have to refrain from applying too many layers which gives the individuals more dignity in a scene, more right perhaps.


Here I have started another piece, again on A1 paper.  I want this piece to be much less calculated and to overpower the individuals from then set that balance like the painting above is doing. Here I have applied the paint thicker. I have also taken notice of one prisoner in particular. He is wearing a strange head piece which I didn’t initially pick up on. I want to exaggerate this, I have painted it quite thickly and the next phase of this painting will be complementing this.


This is the next phrase. I have wash over a diluted acrylic over the surface of the painting, which exaggerates this mask section. I don’t feel this was particularly successful.


This below is an image of a Victorian prison, this scene focuses less upon people and more on the environment. It is clearly a prison which is of panopticon design. It does resemble some structures of society.


Here is the first layer of this prison structure, also on A1 paper. This scene is perhaps the most interesting to paint, the prison has the haunting element of order. In the next stages of this piece I want to suggesting the power of the panopticon structure, a construction that demands obedience.

This image is of a man fulfilling a prison task.


This fourth study is also on A1 paper, the obvious aspect when painting this is to focus on the man, as well as the pointlessness punishment of his job. The initial layer of this piece consists of a very light indication of the figure and a heavily applied layer of white spirit. This piece along with the rest of these studies have been painting directly onto the canvas, I have avoided sketching the scene beforehand. Which would take away from the power of the environment I feel.



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