Edgar Martins will share with audiences the process of making and develolping the project as well as the production of the book that accompanies What Photography has in Common with an Empty Vase. 


17th March, 6 PM, Zoom: Edgar Martins will be in conversation with artist, writer and educator Mark Durden. They will discuss the project in detail, examining the themes, intentions and results of the work.

Book online in advance - free 


What Photography and Incarceration have in Common with an Empty Vase, an exhibition by Edgar Martins, at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry to coincide with Coventry’s City of Culture celebrations.


Commissioned by GRAIN Projects, Martins worked for four years with the inmates of HM Prison in Birmingham, the largest Category B prison in the Midlands, and their families as well as a myriad of local organisations and individuals to create a new body of work that explores loss, conflict and confinement.


 The resulting book, What Photography and Incarceration have in Common with an Empty Vase was shortlisted as the best Photobook of the Year in Paris Photo & Aperture Photobook Awards as well the PhotoEspaña Book Awards.


By using image and text, new and historical photography, evidence and fiction, Martins’ work explores how we deal with the absence of a loved one, brought on by enforced separation through incarceration and lockdown.  The subject matter and focus take on a new and important resonance during these times of Covid-19 and the absence, loss and experience of confinement that this has brought to so many people.


 Edgar Martins said: “By giving a voice to inmates and their families and addressing absence as a set of social relations rather than a mere physical space, my work tried to rethink and counter the sort of imagery normally associated with incarceration and confinement. I went to great lengths to avoid images whose sole purpose, in my opinion, is to confirm the already held opinions within dominant ideology about crime and punishment and to instead look at loss and absence.”


20 February 2021