Safe Ground - Using drama to educate prisoners and young people at risk in the community


Tate Exchange

The Project:

Safe Ground took part in the exhibition ‘The Production of Truth, Justice, and History’ at the Tate Exchange space at the Tate Modern, in partnership with the University of Warwick in June 2018. As a part of the exhibition, there was a human library event which Safe Ground played a part in creating. A human library is an initiative that seeks to offer knowledge, like a book, but through an interactive exchange. The aim of the event was to educate members of the general public who had no prior knowledge of the criminal justice system, or the people who have experienced it.

How it happened:

Safe Ground partnered with Anastasia Chamberlen, Prof of Sociology at the University of Warwick and David Kendall, freelance facilitator, to create the human library event. The Tate Exchange space was used for the human library, which consisted of nine people with lived experience of the criminal justice system. Visitors came to the event and engaged in conversation with the human books in order to learn about their stories.

What it produced:

The human library set out to allow the nine human books to tell their stories in their own unique ways. There were library catalogues with short descriptions, so the visitors could choose the human books they were most interested in speaking to. The library visitors could gain an important insight into the lived experience of those who have been through the criminal justice system.


The event gave the human books an opportunity to be recognised and listened to. As well as this, the visitors to the library gained a better understanding of the complexities and nuances of the criminal justice system. Both the human books and the visitors benefited from the honest exchanges that took place at the event.


‘As we, the books, shared our narratives with people there was a joining when open minds walked along story lines of our pages into our pasts. In this, both reader and witter gained inspiration for a new narrative.’ – Jason Smith, Human Book

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