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Prisoners' quilt wins prestigious prize

The Rubies quilt hanging in the Isis Women's Centre, Gloucester

The Rubies are a group of women prisoners aged over 50 who were at HMP Eastwood Park a prison not far from the M5 in Gloucestershire.  The quilt was discussed, designed and painstakingly stitched, following the inspiration of the HMP Holloway Quilt made by the suffragettes a 100 years ago.  The suffragettes’ quilt contained the names of the brave women imprisoned at Holloway as a result of their public protest for the right to vote. The Eastwood Park Quilt contains the thoughts, feelings and experiences of a group in the Criminal Justice System that is often forgotten: old and quiet (but not any longer).

They did a lot of recycling too: the green squares that carry the words (all hand embroidered on) were cut from old prison sheets. The black cell-borders in between were ripped (no scissors!) from officers used and discarded uniform trousers. The centre square is/ yes indeed: the bum pocket of one of these uniforms.

 To brighten and lighten the whole thing and to celebrate the life of one of the greatest prisoners of all times: Nelson Mandela, they sewed happy strips of red, yellow and green around it.


The quilt won a highest award (platinum) in 2014 given by the Koestler Trust and the quilt was hung in the UK offices of Amnesty International in 2015.  It is currently on loan to the ISIS womens centre in Gloucester run by the Nelson Trust