The Human Face of the Death Penalty: new exhibition at the Oxo Gallery

April 16, 2009

Image of a spotlight in a dark room

Reprieve is delighted to announce a forthcoming exhibition of portraits by British artist Claire Phillips at the Oxo Gallery on London’s Southbank from 1 July to 5 July 2009.

The Human Face of the Death Penalty will bring the viewer face-to-face with different individual human experiences of death row and ask us to consider the morality of ending the life of another human being.

Funded by the Arts Council, Claire travelled to Miami, Atlanta and Mississippi to meet a series of individuals whose experiences of the reality of death row vary enormously. These included:

  • Former inmates exonerated after long periods of incarceration;
  • Current inmates sentenced to death and some of their family members;
  • An executioner responsible for four executions;
  • The foreperson of a jury that convicted and sentenced to death a man who was later proved innocent;
  • The family of an executed man.

Claire communicates her personal response to meeting these people through traditional portraiture. By avoiding obvious visual reference to the death penalty, she aims to present the humanity of each individual – their ordinariness despite their extraordinary experiences.

The comfortable visual representation of the subjects is in stark contrast to an accompanying soundtrack which features interviews with participants and a commentary from a 1984 execution in Georgia.

This project is supported by the Arts Council England, Peter Bottomley MP, Clive Stafford Smith OBE and London Mayor, Boris Johnson.


For further information, please go to or contact Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office ( / 020 7427 1099).

Notes for Editors:

More images available on request; for use in promoting this exhibition only. Please contact the artist if you wish to reproduce images in another context.

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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Reprieve is a charitable company limited by guarantee; Registered Charity No. 1114900. Registered Company No. 5777831 (England).
Registered Office: 2-6 Cannon Street, London, EC4M 6YH
Chair: Lord Bingham; Patrons: Alan Bennett, Julie Christie, Martha Lane Fox, Gordon Roddick, Jon Snow, Marina Warner