Grant to Aspace Arts - Update Nov 2019

Digitisation of the old Gaol plans.

The most relevant plans, prints and documents from the SCC archive that relate to the period in GHT’s history when it was used a prison (the old town Gaol) have been identified, confirmed and were scanned in situ ay Southampton Archives on 15 August.  This day-long session resulted in the  scanning 153 documents and for the first time have digital copies of them.  (see images of some of them.

A selection of the documents, including plans of the old town jail, are now being used in the new book by Dr Cheryl Butler,’Powder, Prisoners and Painters – a definitive guide to the history of God’s House Tower’. The book is at a final proof stage and it is aimed to have this ready for the official GHT partners opening event on 16/01/20.

It is intended to exhibit a number of the digital documents, including the prison plans themselves, as part of a new exhibition scheduled to open in September 2020.  This exhibition will investigate and interpret the prison period in the history of God’s House Tower, a headline subject in Aspace’s plans to inform the public about GHT’s past. The digital plans and documents will form heart of the exhibition and be shown alongside the painting Old Town Jail by Thomas Hart in Aspace’s  new Collections Gallery.

To complement this Aspace will commission a series of contemporary artists to make new works in response to the digitised plans and documents along with the painting. Aspace have  commissioned award wining audio artist Emily Peasgood to produce a new, site-specific, piece of work.  To accompany Emily’s exhibition a new publication focused on the old town prison period is to be produced featuring the digital documents, essays by experts such as Dr Andy Russel and Dr Cheryl Butler.  A further group of contemporary artists will also be commissioned to follow Emilys exhibition and artistically investigate the period of GHT’s history as the old town jail.

We are currently on schedule and have completed the first stages of the project; creating digital copies of the documents and preparing these for publication.

This project is also funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund.