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Reading Prison art exhibition extended due to popular demand – University of Reading

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Reading Prison art exhibition extended due to popular demand

Release Date 31 October 2016

Inside Reading Prison

An art exhibition at Reading Prison featuring work by some of the world's most renowned artists has had its sentence extended. 

‘Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison', part of the University of Reading's Reading International art project, will run for an extra month until 4 December due the high demand in interest from the public.

For the first time in its history, Reading Prison has opened to the public for a major new project by Artangel exploring the work of the prison's most famous inmate, Oscar Wilde.

Over 16,000 people have visited Inside since it opened on 4 September and the exhibition has now been extended to 4 December due to popular demand.

Watch video of the exhibition >>>

As part of the extension, award-winning actress Fiona Shaw will give a live reading of Wilde's final work The Ballad of Reading Gaol from inside the prison on 4 December.

For Artangel's exhibiton, new works have been made in response to the prison's architecture and history by leading artists including Marlene Dumas, Robert Gober, Nan Goldin, Steve McQueen, Jean-Michel Pancin and Wolfgang Tillmans, and are installed in the prison's corridors, wings and cells. 

Audio recordings of Neil Bartlett, Ralph Fiennes, Kathryn Hunter, Ragnar Kjartansson, Maxine Peake, Lemn Sissay, Patti Smith, Colm Tóibín and Ben Whishaw reading Wilde's De Profundis, the extended letter he wrote to his lover Lord Alfred Douglas from his prison cell, will be available to listen to in the prison chapel from 3 November.

Reading Prison, formerly known as Reading Gaol, opened in 1844 and was a working prison until 2013. Oscar Wilde was incarcerated there between 1895 and 1897, enduring the Separate System, a harsh penal regime designed to eliminate any contact between prisoners.

Historical plans, late 19th century mug-shots of inmates and work by Ai Weiwei, Vija Celmins, Rita Donagh, Peter Dreher, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Richard Hamilton, Roni Horn, Doris Salcedo and Jeanette Winterson are also on display.

The hugely popular one-hour guided walking tours of Reading Prison, presented in association with the National Trust, are also being extended until 26 November. The tours focus on the history and architecture of the Victorian prison.

James Lingwood and Michael Morris, Co-Directors of Artangel, said:

"There has been an overwhelming interest and excitement in Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison, and we are delighted to be able to offer even more people the opportunity to experience the remarkable work by artists and writers inside the prison."

  • Inside has been made possible with the kind support of the Ministry of Justice and is presented as part of Reading 2016, Reading's Year of Culture.
  • Inside is generously supported by Dayana Tamendarova with further support from Jack Kirkland, Matthew Marks Gallery, Sylvie Winckler and those who wish to remain anonymous.


Address: Reading Prison, Forbury Road, Reading, Berkshire RG1 3HY

Opening times from 3 November - 4 December 2016


  • Monday - Wednesday  Closed 
  • Thursday 11.00 - 17.00
  • Friday - Saturday 11.00 - 19.00
  • Sunday 11.00 - 17.00


Entry: Timed entry with strict capacity, advance booking recommended £9, £7 concessions £2 children under 18

Booking:, on 0118 960 6060

Visitor Information:

A small amount of material is not appropriate for children as it contains nudity and content of a sexual nature.

Public enquiries:   / +44 (0)207 713 1400

Disabled Access: Those with specific access requirements are encouraged to visit the Artangel website to read the full access statement or call the Artangel office for further information before their visit.


4 December 12.00 - 13.15

The Ballad of Reading Gaol and other works by Oscar Wilde

A reading by actor Fiona Shaw in the chapel at Reading Prison

Tickets £20

24 November 19.00 - 20.00

The history of Reading Prison

A talk by Berkshire Record Office Archivist Mark Stevens in the chapel at Reading Prison

Tickets £9, £7 concessions

Tours of Reading Gaol presented in association with the National Trust

Guided one-hour walking tours of Reading Prison, focusing on its Victorian architecture, taking place on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 September - 26 November.

Fridays, 12noon and 2pm

Saturdays, 12noon, 2pm, 4pm

Tickets: £12 adults, £10 concessions (includes entry to exhibition)

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