Empty prisons are eerie places. Each prison has its own history, character, and stories to tell, but so too does every cell. Etched into their walls is the passing of successive generations of inmates each of who has carved their passing.
For the past decade Australian photographer, Brett Leigh Dicks, has been photographing abandoned prisons the world over. His latest project has seen the US-based photographer exploring decommissioned prisons and gaols in his homeland of Australia. The exhibition includes both historic and contemporary sites. While Port Arthur closed in 1877, Parramatta Correctional Center housed prisoners until 2011. Dicks said photographing the two locations offered two very contrasting experiences.
“There were still books and televisions and personal photographs in the cells at the gaol in Parramatta – the ins and out of prison life remained very apparent there – whereas Port Arthur featured the haunting rustic metal and stone remains of a colonial era penitentiary ” he observed. “The prisoner experience was obviously very different at each of those locations and so too are the resulting photographs.”
About Brett Leigh Dicks
Brett Leigh Dicks is a United States-based Australian photographer who currently residing in California. Born in Sydney, Australia, Brett immigrated to the United States in 2001. His photographic endeavors have led him to explore the world’s natural and urban landscapes with the resulting imagery spanning Australia, America and Europe. In employing the tradition of fine black and white photography, Brett primarily investigates the landscape and the fragile ties that it shares with human history.
Past series have ranged from documenting indigenous spiritual sites, concentration and interment camps across Europe, abandoned nuclear missile bases in the United States and Europe, disappearing grain elevators across the American Midwest and nuclear landscapes. Having recently completed series examining decommissioned prisons in both the United States and Australia, Brett is currently working on a new body of work documenting sites of indigenous massacres in colonial-era Australia.
Brett’s work has been widely exhibited in Australia, Europe and the United States. In 2016 Fremantle Prison Staged an exhibition titled A Quiet Conviction highlighting the prison photography he has undertaken throughout the United States. Behind These Walls is the first exhibition of Brett’s work in Australian gaols. His work has been the subject of numerous features across various media ranging from ABC Radio to VICE. Brett currently resides in Santa Barbara, California with his Australian musician wife – Natalie D-Napoleon – and their seven-year-old son – Samuel. [Official Website]