Where Things Come From – Fine Cell Works

Imagine a place where men with needle and thread stitch beautiful patchwork bags, embroidered linens, needlepoint pillows and quilts.  Now imagine that this place is inside a UK prison, thanks to an incredible program called “Fine Cell Works“, in which prisoners create delicate items to be sold through their website.

The program runs in 26 prisons across the UK and gives prisoners a chance to learn something new, make something meaningful and earn money while rebuilding their lives.

“Of all the aesthetic projects offered down the years to capture the imagination and tame the frustration of prisoners, fine needlework is one of the oddest. Yet it has worked, and borne fruit, and perhaps after all it is not surprising. Prisons even at their best are stark and utilitarian places. The chance to create a piece of ‘unnecessary’ beauty and send it out into the world is at once a defiance of that environment, and a good use of the time spent there.” – Fine Cell Work Patron Libby Purves

I love especially the last part, in which she talks about the defiance of the prison environment.

If you’d like to learn more about the work from a prisoners perspective Fine Cell Work’s website posts testimonials from the stitchers. Karl’s story is very moving and provides insight how the work changed his life behind bars and beyond.

Mike Albo in HandEye Magazine leaves us with these thoughtful words:

“If you put one (of these pillows) on your bed, the whole room will begin to ring with meaning. You will think about the unseen authors of everything else – the Indonesian seamstress who made your curtains, the underpaid Mexican migrant worker who hemmed your sheets – and you will also think about the power of art in general to transform lives and dispel demons.”

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5 Responses to “Where Things Come From – Fine Cell Works”

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  1. Christina says:

    It’s so good to have you back! I loved the idea of “creating a piece of “unnecesary” beauty” as an expression of defiance…Don’t we all human beings need that? Thank you for presenting this deeply touching project! Enjoy the meditative savouring of the world during this Christmas season!

  2. Marina Lynn says:

    This is a lovely article and an inspiring story. Well done. Thank you for the inspiration. We hope you have a wonderful New Year.

  3. kathrin says:

    Thanks so much Christina. I agree, this was one of the most touching projects I’ve encountered in a long time. Some of the testimonials were so moving that they stayed with me for days and days.

  4. Barbara says:

    I have checked back occasionally to read your last post, and to wish you were still blogging. Imagine my happiness when I discovered today that you are back! Yours was always my favorite and most inspirational reading and I just want to let you know I am so very pleased. Barb

  5. shriv says:

    Thanks for posting this wonderful link! I have spent a happy hour reading and being moved by the various testimonials on the site. :-D

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