Peter Lewis

Lewis, Peter


The main activity was an art residency that took place in The Lock-Up. The Lock-Up is a cultural centre in Newcastle, Australia, a building that was originally a prison facility until it closed in 1982.

The Residency period was three weeks, during the first week I focused on creating an installation for one of the men’s cells. The completion of the cell installation coincided with a gallery open evening and I was introduced to the invited guests. At the same time I presented a video piece in an adjacent cell. During the second two weeks I used various locations within the building to carry out experimental pin-hole photography.

I made links with Newcastle University who helped with the development and processing of my photographic images. The Head of Visual Art has invited me to return and use their studio facilities in order to extend my art practice, she suggested a sabbatical type arrangement. I gave a guest Lecture to the degree students at the University, where I outlined my current practice and talked about the subject matter that informs my work. I had the opportunity to meet with many local artists both in Sydney and Newcastle.

Events Attended

Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney – met with Runa Islam (Turner Prize Nominee 2008), at a new exhibition opening event.
Watts Gallery Open Evening – contemporary art practice (new student work shown).


The Lock-up Artist in Residency programme has allowed me to work in a specific location that resonates with my current research into social psychology, specifically systems of power and control. The prison environment, of male/female cells, exercise yard and sergeant’s office offered an ideal backdrop to create ‘set-ups’, that could be recorded through pin-hole image making.

I have worked mostly as a ceramicist but am aware of the appropriateness of media and how it is used most effectively to carry meaning. The residency allowed me to experiment with new media to interpret site and location. The ethereal qualities created via pin-hole box ‘cameras’, seemed to be the best way to capture emotionally charged atmospheres. There is an element of chance or unpredictability in the pin-hole process, I wanted to circumvent my usual control of media, materials and outcomes.

The opportunity has been very beneficial on several levels, exploring new media and allowing me the time to think and consider new art making strategies. In addition I have made contact with several artists, curators and academics who wish to keep in touch for possible collaborations.


I am much more confident now about embarking on new projects, engaging with new media and adopting new techniques beyond ceramics as my main area of study.

I have generated a range of photographic imagery that I wish to pursue and extend. I am considering several options and want to bring the work completed at the residency into the public domain. My initial thoughts are to approach specific galleries that have a record of exhibiting 2D/photo media works.

I also wish to contact other artists/curators to explore ways forward, I consider the residency and collection of work from it the beginning of a project and not the conclusion of something.

To interact with new sites and locations, extend personal ideas and meet other creative people has fostered a desire to work more in the public realm.

Additional Comments

My only regret is that the Residency was three weeks, this didn’t allow much flexibility if any problems arose, which can often be the case in new surroundings. I set myself several challenges and a month would have allowed me the time to generate more images, especially from other locations within the prison.

It is my first residency overseas and I have learnt much from the experience.

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