covid-19 response to uk & USA prisons
a studio initiative
exponential increase in literacy
over 50,000 issues distributed
leading to arts awards
provision of in cell instruments
A studio initiative
Studio initiative represent a major undertaking for my design practice. Years of ethnographic & primary research provide the starting point for our co-creative conversations.
Covid19 and the pandemic created a brutal time for all. In prison, lockdown translated as being locked up for 23 hours and 40 minutes a day, with next to nothing in terms of engagement.
Design as a conversation
Design is a conversation, across space time and culture. Sometimes as a host, I suggest a conversation theme to engage with all who occupy the problem space. Aux Magazine became that conversational theme, as well as a response to the pandemic. A response that nobody asked us to make, but one we all felt compelled to do so, because it is the right thing to do.
What started life as a conversation has become a communication platform that reaches over 3,000 men in the UK and a further 2,000 in the USA. Sometimes just starting the conversation is all that's needed.
introducing Aux Magazine
Throughout the lockdown period, InHouse Records, an award-winning rehabilitative programme operating in and out of UK prisons, has been publishing a weekly educational music magazine for UK prisoners – most of whom are locked up for almost 24 hours a day.
weekly issues delivered
The full-colour, weekly magazine, Aux, provides aspirational and educational material to over 2,500 prisoners in seven participating prisons across the South East. The magazine’s mix of content – it covers creativity, song-writing, rhythm, music, production and culture – is proving a hit with readers at a time when meaningful engagement is more critical than ever.
Emily Thomas the Governor of HMP Isis said of Aux: "Young men here have been having to spend lots more time in their cells over the last few weeks and the weekly magazines have been really popular, people are always waiting for the next one. We're really grateful for the support because it means that our young men know people are thinking of them at this time and are still hoping they can help them to rehabilitate through what is a difficult time. So thank you very much.”
Aux increases literacy, promotes learning and provides healthy expressions of emotion. It also comes with an accompanying audio CD that includes practice tunes and inspirational interviews with InHouse Graduates, (participants of the programme who have since been released). As a direct result of the magazine, many prisoners have been inspired to take up guitar. Music as a force for good inspired Fender Guitars to generously donate 50 Acoustic Guitars, which have been distributed across the seven prisons.
a Trojan horse
Aux Magazine, a Trojan Horse of a music magazine, education in disguise.
Along with InHouse Records, Aux Magazine represents a growing portfolio of projects within the field of Criminal Justice. Complex entities cannot be changed with a single social impact project, indeed plurality of projects are often required to address complex issues.