Prisoner art to feature alongside community artists

21 September 2011

An exhibition in Whangarei's Porcine Gallery, opening on 3 October, will include carvings from Northland Region Corrections Facility and work by artists at Whau Valley Whaiora Support Trust.

Artwork by Jennie M, an artist at Whau Valley Whaiora Support Trust Entitled Arts Access – The Turning Point, the exhibition will reflect the value of art in providing a means of self-expression, building self-esteem and helping an individual’s journey to recovery. It will include the work of close to 20 artists from Whau Valley Whaiora Support Trust, a Whangarei creative space providing artistic opportunities for mental health service users.

Alongside their art will be a dozen wood carvings and several tukutuku panels, created by prisoners at Northland Region Corrections Facility in Ngawha, near Kaikohe.

Mark Lynds, Manager Contracts and Services, Department of Corrections, says the collaboration with Whau Valley Whaiora Support Trust is the first step in building partnerships with community arts organisations in Northland.

Connecting with the Northland community

“This has been happening in Auckland for a few years, particularly with the Department’s very successful partnership with Mairangi Arts Centre,” he says. “It’s about finding ways to make connections with the Northland community and get the prisoners’ artwork into the public arena.”

This is the first time a Whau Valley Whaiora Support Trust exhibition will feature prison art, says Trish Madison, Manager. “It’s a positive step for everyone: the prisoners, our artists and the community. The carvings will add another dimension to the exhibition and I believe something like this can only promote understanding and tolerance.”

Carvings by a prisoner at Northland Region Corrections FacilityArts Access – The Turning Point will feature paintings, pottery, bone carvings, mosaics and crafts. Curated by Trish, it will be an eclectic collection showcasing work by emerging artists alongside work by more experienced artists.

Evon Morgan, Porcine Gallery manager and bookseller, says that Whau Valley Whaiora Support Trust has been exhibiting at the gallery for seven years. The gallery has a policy of supporting community art and the work of merging artists.

“We have a long-standing partnership with the trust and when Trish started talking to me about including prison art, I was immediately interested because I had just read a newspaper article about the art programmes at Ngawha,” she says.

“I believe access to the arts can be life-changing. I imagine that in a prison environment, access to art could channel energy and open up doors for positive development.”


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