InsideOut showcases prison art
21 June 2010
Speakers at this month's opening of InsideOut, an exhibition of prison art at the Mairangi Arts Centre in Auckland, spoke eloquently of the role of the arts in turning around the lives of prisoners.
More that 100 guests were welcomed into the arts centre by Des Ripi, Kaumatua, MÄori Services, Department of Corrections, and by Fay Mason, Chair of the Mairangi Arts Centre Trust. After the speeches, they were invited to look at the 113 paintings and carvings on display.
Although he was unable to attend, Prime Minister the Hon. John Key’s message of support was read out. “Art is a great way for prisoners to express themselves, get in touch with their culture, and learn valuable skills to take with them once they’ve finished their prison sentences. It’s also a chance for them to contribute to their community.”
Warren Cummins, Northern Regional Manager for Prison Services, Department of Corrections, pointed out that the artworks represented 10,000 hours of creative activity. “These men live in a restricted environment but they are able to produce this beautiful work – work that sets their minds free.”
The catalogue notes: “The kaupapa of InsideOut is to promote and encourage professionalism in all our endeavours. We as a collective of men in prison are aspiring to develop ourselves as artists, create and implement community projects that enhance and uplift our region, and give back to our families, friends and those associated with us.”
Also in the catalogue, curator and general manager of the Mairangi Arts Centre, Ellie Drummond, states: “For men who are on long-term sentences, making art can be a healing journey.”
Moana Tipa, Prison Arts Advisor for Arts Access Aotearoa, attended the opening. “The exhibition presents the ongoing vision of Northern Regional Prisons to develop a place for prison art, not only within established galleries but through commissioned works.
“It also demonstrates a readiness to focus the prison art sub-culture on rehabilitative outcomes.”
In addition, she said, the exhibition showed the influence that prison art tutor Robyn Hughes, a highly regarded artist and lecturer, has had in developing art practice among prisoners over a number of years.