Compton Verney painting to be sent out to prisons as part of We Roar project

Compton Verney painting to be sent out to prisons as part of We Roar project

Compton Verney recently gave permission for the painting ‘In the Lion’s Den’, 1870 by W H Rogers to be used in an upcoming collaborative exhibition set to tour prisons in 2024.

CVCSC 0044 F In the Lion’s Den, W.H. Rogers © Compton Verney, photo by Hugh Kelly.

We Roar is an international project led by artist Faye Claridge that follows the project We Bear in 2020 where the resulting exhibition was seen by more then 52,000 UK visitors and 90,000 US visitors. Forty people in 20 UK and US prisons have been sent a poem and two paintings (including ‘In The Lion’s Den) as inspiration and are being supported by a team of mentors to produce creative responses for the collaborative exhibition.

In 2024, the artworks and poems created by inmates in response to ‘In the Lion’s Den’ will tour 10 UK prisons and be celebrated at a number of public events. The exhibition will also be showcased at the largest juried art fair in the US, followed by a symposium jointly hosted by the University of Warwick and the University of Michigan. A digital exhibition of the project will be screened through prisons in Michigan.

Project creator Faye Claridge said: “The project aims to raise the public profile of people in prison and their experiences and to support incarcerated individuals to make connections that are really needed to help to tackle the inequalities and mental health crises faced by many.” The talent of everyone involved is clear and the exhibited artworks and poetry created through We Roar are going to make powerful connections with audiences across the globe.

Faye Claridge’s own extraordinary artwork centres on social equality and how access to collections, the outdoors and culture are central in social wellbeing. She has a particular interest in folk art (past and present) and has creatively engaged in Compton Verney’s Folk Art Collection for a number of significant projects including What The Folk Say (2011), Kern Baby (2012-16) and We Bear (2021-2022).

The painting ‘In the Lion’s Den’ by W H Rogers is from our British Folk Art collection, painted in oil on canvas around 1870 and measuring 42.2 x 48.8 cm. It shows man, maybe a circus master, in a wooden cattle car, whip out of reach on the floor as tigers and lions surround him in dangerous proximity. Although the adult tiger licks the man’s face and his arms are seen embracing both the tiger and the lion- gestures that suggest a safe intimacy- the size and ferocious nature of the cats plus the tiger cubs playing on the floor remind the viewer of the violent potential of the scene and creates an air of tension.

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