A NEW exhibition has gone on show at Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre – giving a view from within Wales’ prison system.
Illumination is a collection of artwork, music and writing from prisoners, inmates of secure hospitals and by people on community sentences across Wales. Selected from entries to the Koestler Awards, the exhibition aims to tackle prisoner rehabilitation by giving detainees a positive experience of the arts.
Prisoner re-offending is estimated to cost the UK taxpayer between £9.5 and £13 billion per year and rehabilitation is a key part of government strategy to reduce that figure. The annual Koestler Awards aim to give inmates in prisons, secure hospitals, young offenders institutions and immigration removal centres a sense of achievement in displaying their work to help spur on their rehabilitation efforts.
The exhibition was curated by eight women involved in the community work scheme in Wales with Gibran UK. Their involvement highlights the lack of women’s prisons in Wales – with many female prisoners sent to English prisons as far away as East Sutton Park Prison in Kent.
“There’s often a lot of negative feeling around what they’ve done, and for many it’s the first time they’ve felt pride about something they have achieved. This work is a big step towards changing other people’s perceptions, and their perceptions of themselves.”
Judging the awards were artists such as Sarah Lucas and Greyson Perry, musicians Hot Chip and organisations such as the National Theatre and the British Film Institute.
Of the pieces on display, 11 won Koestler awards ranging from £20 for bronze award to £100 for a platinum award.
As part of the rehabilitation effort, entries can also be sold as part of the exhibition to allow the artists to see the real returns their efforts can have. Of the proceeds from each sale the artist receives 50 per cent, while 25 per cent goes to Victim Support.
Faye Gibson, Exhibition Programmer at the Wales Millennium Centre said: “We’ve sold lots of works already, which is amazing. It’s a powerful exhibition, and it means so much to the artists.”
Ria Sloan said: “It’s also about showing the public that people who have committed crimes shouldn’t just be written off. If we can help them, it helps everyone in the long run.”
To find out more about the exhibition, head to https://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2015-2016/Exhibitions/253470/