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Mayor helps launch new exhibition at St Albans Museum + Gallery

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The Mayor of St Albans City and District, Councillor Geoff Harrison, has helped launch a new exhibition in the basement cells of the St Albans Museum + Gallery.

Councillor Harrison talked to the artists and organisers of Curious Crimes, an exhibition that features art works created by former offenders.

The artists took inspiration from historic cases that were once tried in the building’s pre-Victorian courtroom.

One artist, for example, produced a vivid painting of a cricket bat after reading about thief Thomas Veal.

Veal was sentenced in 1835 to seven years transportation to a colony in Australia for stealing one bat from a St Albans shop.

Another artist based their work, a striking painting of a bottle of poison, on the sad case of a young girl, Lottie Spalding, who almost died after overdosing on a painkiller.

She was hauled before court in 1913 for the offence of attempted suicide and bound over.

Curious Crimes was produced with the help of HACRO, the Hertfordshire Association for the Care and Rehabilitation of Offenders, supported by the homeless charity Emmaus. It is free and runs until Wednesday 30 November.

The Mayor said:

This was an eye-catching little exhibition and I urge people to come and see it for themselves.

The subterranean cells provide an appropriately menacing atmosphere for art works inspired by the crimes and harsh punishments of previous eras. It was extremely interesting to read the notes explaining what had inspired the paintings and graffiti work.

I was very impressed by the artists who talked to me about their work and how it had helped them turn their lives around.

The exhibition is funded by the Building Better Opportunities Project.