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Islington Museum curator Roz Currie: ‘My mother always encouraged me to shine a light on the rights of the vulnerable’

PUBLISHED: 13:38 23 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:38 23 November 2018

Roz Currie, centre, bottom row, alongside colleagues and artist Hannah Hull, playwright Laura McCluskey and actors including former members of Clean Break. Picture: Em Fitzgerald/Islington Museum

Roz Currie, centre, bottom row, alongside colleagues and artist Hannah Hull, playwright Laura McCluskey and actors including former members of Clean Break. Picture: Em Fitzgerald/Islington Museum

Em Fitzgerald Photography

Roz Currie is eager to reflect on the successes of what was “more than a passion project” – the ground-breaking Echoes of Holloway Prison exhibition, which finished a three-month run at Islington Museum last month.

At the end of last week, Roz was announced as a runner-up in the Museums Association’s Radical Changemaker Award.

After two years’ hard graft on the project, she was “heartened by the nomination”.

“It made my whole team feel justified in what we’re doing – addressing a topic, like women’s experiences in prison, which pushes boundaries, even causes controversy,” Roz explains.

Roz, 38, first moved to Islington from Leeds in her early 20s.

“I was immediately struck by the number of people in the borough doing incredible things,” she says. “Islington’s location, just outside the City, has given it a long history of non-conformism and radicalism, and the stories at Holloway really feed into that.”

Roz was previously curator at the Jewish Museum in Camden.

An exhibition on Jewish suffrage in 2015 is what first turned her attention to the stories of the inmates at Holloway, many of whom – in the early 20th century – were suffragettes.

“As soon as we heard the prison was closing in 2016, we knew we had to capture something of that because it’s so symbolically connected to the borough,” she says. As curator of Islington Museum, Roz sees her job as highlighting the untold stories of the borough and “helping people to get to grips with parts of their community of which they’re unaware.”

She puts her passion for social justice down to the courage and wisdom of her mother, Jane Wynne, who was an expert on child abuse.

“My mother always encouraged me to shine a light on the rights of the vulnerable,” she says.

Roz says her determination to secure Heritage Lottery funding for the project came from “how unheard and vulnerable women in prison are today”.

Sharon Heal, director of the Museums Association, praised her work for helping the women share their stories for the first time.

But while the exhibition is now over, the project continues. Until March Roz and her team will be promoting a film and organising talks to spread the word about the remarkable stories of Holloway Prison.

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