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Visits inspire Prison Arts Advisor

20 December 2011

The weeks leading up to Christmas are not an ideal time to be visiting prisons to conduct a prison art planning survey. Nevertheless, Moana Tipa, Prison Arts Advisor, Arts Access Aotearoa has been inspired by the diverse and innovative developments using the arts to support the rehabilitative process in a number of the nine prisons visited since late November.

Visits have been in the upper southern region (Rimutaka and Arohata), lower central region (Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay) and in the northern region (Northern Region Corrections Facility, Auckland Women's Region Corrections Facility and Spring Hill Corrections Facility). Canterbury Prisons has been the most recent visit.

Moana Tipa reports:

Starting at Rimutaka Prison, I found it very inspiring to see the work being undertaken in the Maori Focus Unit under the direction of Residential Manager Jim Morgan and seconded Prison Officer/carver kaiwhakairo Kereopa Wharehinga. The experience and knowledge of Kereopa brings new strengths to the quality of the work being commissioned for community organisations.

Anne Abraham, Prison Manager at Arohata Women’s Prison, works creatively with many volunteer organisations to bring a wide range of innovative skill-building activities to prisoners there.

At Hawke’s Bay Prison’s Maori Focus Unit, Lawrence Ereatara demonstrates a different approach to partnership by directing prisoner carving away from prison walls and into the communities where the families of the men are. Prison carvings are made for kindergartens, kohanga reo, schools and community and sporting organisations.

In Canterbury Prisons, there is an interest in the therapeutic value of the arts through the vision of Lindon Pullan, Principal Psychologist, Matapuna Special Treatment Unit. The work of prison art tutor/therapeutic arts practitioner and artist Corina Hazlett has an aesthetic focus as well as a therapeutic and rehabilitative value for prisoner participants.
At the moment, Corina is developing Ka Hangarua, a prison-wide public art exhibition auction at Spreydon Baptist Church in February to raise funds for the Christchurch Earthquake Relief Fund.

Lori Avery, a practising artist and prison art tutor in the Northern Region Corrections Facility, brings vision and a lifetime of skill to prison art development. Her work is wide-ranging, across contemporary visual arts with a focus on skilled, large-scale airbrushed murals.

Her art interests traverse the disciplines into graphic art development and the use of text and language. She has been instrumental in its delivery through an artist/computer tutor at the facility.

Findings from the prison arts planning survey will support each of the prisons as they enter their arts planning process.

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