Published by Sam Ruddock on

‘There have been many amazing projects to help people during the pandemic and
Paperchains is one of the very best.’

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall
Story Machine is delighted to announce that we have received Arts Council Project Grant funding. This will help us build on the brilliant Paperchains project and work with outsider artists to bring it to life in an anthology and touring show.

Paperchains was created by Penned-Up co-founder David Kendall and writer and prison librarian Alan Smith. They wanted to ensure that the history of the Covid-19 lockdowns includes voices that can so often be marginalised – those with experience of prison, of homelessness, of addiction.

Paperchains received entries from across the UK. In words and visual art they share the experiences of prisoners spending 23 hours each day locked in a cell, inhaling and exhaling, over and over again, the same recycled air. For months on end. With no visitors. They tell of addicts who were just starting to recover and rebuild, only to find themselves back on the precipice. They tell of the person down your street whose house was never really a home.

These are voices from inside the storm. From people whose stories are rarely heard. Powerful, often irreverent, heartfelt: experiences that history should not forget.

Sam Ruddock, Director of Story Machine says:

The Covid-19 lockdowns have been significant for all of us. But while some of us have support to fall back on, others had a very different experience. Reading the entries for Paperchains was an eye-opening and emotional process of stepping into other shoes. I can’t wait to bring these experiences to life and to work with outsider artists to share our show with people. I want to say a huge thank you to Arts Council England for believing in our vision. And to Alan, David, and Nell Leyshon for their support and enthusiasm. We can’t wait to share more information with you.

Paperchains has featured in The Big Issue, The Bookseller, and Inside Time.