Eye Inside a Female Prison

© Tracey Derrick

Documenting the Inmates At Malmesbury Prison

“Eye Inside” is a body of work by photographer Tracey Derrick, documenting more than a year in the lives of the women inmates at Malmesbury Prison. Walking the tightrope between empathic portraiture and objective documentary, it is an intimate portrait of a community normally hidden behind prison walls.

“From an initial shyness around me and my camera, grew to be a warm and intimate experience between us. These women shared their life experiences with me.” Derrick’s work always has moments of raw connection with her subjects, but in the world of the prison, it took longer than usual to establish and capture that rapport.

“By the end of the year I needed to give something back. Their daily lives in prison were uneventful so I taught them some photography - I didn’t really want to end our friendship,” says Tracey Derrick.

She brought in a dozen cameras from a previous project with children in the townships, organized funding and taught the women photography in the prison. The camera group called themselves Rough Diamonds. Their photographs of each other and their inside world complement Derrick’s eye and the combined works were hung at many exhibitions around the world.