Historical regional criminals subject of art gallery display

Staff from Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) are behind a collection of mug shots of historical north east criminals, which have unveiled for the first time at the Hartlepool Art Gallery.

Fascinated by the images, Jade Sweeting, print making technician demonstrator at CCAD, joined CCAD illustration lecturer Nik Holmes in creating an exhibition to showcase the never seen before mug shots, which were only recently discovered in the Museum of Hartlepool’s photographic archives in 2015.

Entitled ‘Exposed’, the free exhibition – which runs until March – captures the visible emotion of criminals who came from the across the region but were all arrested in Hartlepool.

The collection features a rogues’ gallery of Edwardian convicts who were found guilty of a range of crimes such as arson, fraud and even stealing potatoes. They were originally captured by Hartlepool Borough Police, a small force which served Hartlepool Headland between 1851 and 1947.

Artist Jade, who is also Creative Director of the Pulled Print Club, used a number of analogue processes, mainly photography and screen print to recycle the existing photos and add her own commentary in order to create a new story.

She said: “Working with the glass negatives has been an intimate and delicate process. Watching the portraits slowly reveal themselves whilst immersed in the developer had a certain voyeuristic quality. With little information on the portraits I have been left questioning the innocence of the people captured. I feel very privileged to be given this opportunity to bring these lost identities back to life and to raise the question of innocence within the minds wider community when viewing these portraits.”