15 March 2018

Review: Pentridge - Voices from the Other Side by Rupert Mann

* Copy courtesy of Scribe Publications *

Pentridge Prison was a hulking and menacing structure of bluestone walls and guard towers and operated as a prison in Melbourne for 150 years. In 1997 it was closed and since then parts of the prison have been demolished and the developers have moved in to revitalise the area.

In an effort to preserve the history of Pentridge as much as possible before it was made unrecognisable by developers, Rupert Mann undertook a 5 year project to capture the testimonies of former staff and inmates. Pentridge - Voices from the Other Side is the result and contains personal stories from a variety of people alongside many photographs of the now deserted and run down prison.

I enjoyed reading the 14 interviews with former prisoners and staff, however some of them were understandably heavy going and required a good interval of time before I was ready to move on to the next one.

Given Rupert Mann is a photographer, I was expecting the photographs to be of better quality and composition. However when I learned he didn't have permission to photograph Pentridge, it became clear he was probably trespassing, short of time and therefore unable to take the equipment he might have liked.

Included in the back of the book was a breakdown of each of the divisions at Pentridge - including purpose, capacity and floor plan - which would have been better served at the front of the book.

Ultimately I'm thankful to Rupert Mann for preserving the history of Pentridge in these interviews and wish Pentridge had been preserved as a museum. Pentridge - Voices from the Other Side by Rupert Mann is an important book and recommended for readers of history and true crime and fans of abandoned places photography. Yes, it's a thing.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!

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