Green Hell: Detention, art, and activism in an English landscape

Donald, Stephanie Hemelryk and Davies Hayon, Kaya (2022). Green Hell: Detention, art, and activism in an English landscape. Rural Landscapes: Society, Environment, History, 9(1), article no. 2.



This paper revolves on the carceral practices of Morton Hall IRC (Immigration Removal Centre) and of the role of visual imagery in the campaigns against them. Morton Hall is located in Lincolnshire, a rural county in England with a long history of agricultural innovation. It observes and debates a sense of the dissonance between institution and location that Morton Hall shared with Manus Island in the Pacific, the site of another postcolonial prison camp also in a beautiful setting. We interrogate how the legacies of British colonialism in the Pacific might help to explain that shared incongruity between function and place. We discuss a public initiative that aimed to give artistic and activist expression to these insights by highlighting the physical, historical, and emotional connections between Lincoln, the surrounding countryside, and the IRC. The aim of this planned event, The Big Walk, was to show that there is no absolute spatial disconnect between places of incarceration and places of freedom. In describing and analysing the cultural legacy of the planned event, curtailed by the 2020 pandemic, we draw on the wider oeuvre of British-Croatian artist, Natasha Davis, which include a film (2020) commissioned to replace the Walk and yet draw attention to the landscape as layered by time and memory, a landscape that yields ups a cross-temporal narrative spored beneath

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