Criminal Quilts is an art and archives project, crafted and researched by artist Ruth Singer in partnership with Staffordshire Record Office. Ruth has been working with these images since 2012 and over the last year has been Artist in Residence at the Record Office, researching and creating artworks inspired by images of female criminals who were photographed in Stafford Prison from 1877 to 1915. These pictures provide a compelling glimpse into the lives of around 500 women imprisoned for crimes such as drunkenness and theft, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries which Ruth has been researching along with a team of volunteers.
This exhibition includes Ruth’s 2016 Fine Art Quilt Masters winning piece Criminal Quilts: Hanging made from layered silk with appliqué and embroidered hands echoing the photographs. Alongside this piece will be miniature quilts and garments using Ruth’s trademark detailed hand stitch alongside large scale quilts, prints and hangings incorporating screen print, digital print and cyanotype photography. The larger scale new work has developed in partnership with Wolverhampton University Department of Fashion and Textiles where Ruth is artist in residence. Student and community pieces will also be shown, along with archive research about the women in the photographs.