Liz Real and Martina Hildebrandt, eminent local artists, have combined their creative forces to present a fun and feisty exhibition of work at the Central Library’s HolyBrook gallery portraying eminent women of the area and also examining the compelling history of our prison.

The work ranges from the colourful Big Issue vendor Maria, through humorous strolling technology figures, an absorbed ‘Smombie’, the first woman professor Edith Morley right up to Reading’s very own glamorous film star, Jacqueline Bisset. It also includes a poignant representation of that unsung heroine, the Land Army girl and a wistful portrait of Jane Austen, who was briefly schooled here at Reading Abbey.

We see fascinating traces of prisoners incarcerated in Reading Prison – the most significant being Oscar Wilde, who was given special permission to have more books than the prescribed Prayer Book, hymn book and Bible in his cell. There is also heartfelt graffiti scrawled on the cell walls proclaiming ‘free with my dreams’ and an intriguing study of hands, pre-dating the finger printing system!

Digital Strutt (Martina Hildebrandt)

Entrance is free to this charming and utterly absorbing exhibition of work which can be found at Reading central library until 17 November during normal library opening hours – do try and catch it!

  1. ‘Reading in the margins’ art exhibition at Reading Central Library
  2. The HolyBrook gallery
  3. Liz Real
  4. Martina Hildebrandt
  5. Reading Guild of Artists
  6. Reading Central Library