Our first ever public exhibition of art made by prisoners was unveiled recently in Sheerness Gateway, on the Isle of Sheppey.
Featuring paintings and drawings by 17 prisoners from local prisons HMP Elmley and HMP Swaleside, the month long exhibition was opened by Elmley Governor Jim Carmichael. The Mayor of Swale Cllr George Bobbin and Mayoress Brenda Bobbin also attended.
The project was the brainchild of Star Worker, Sally Wilson, and was inspired by work created for the 2014 Koestler Awards national prison art competition. Many of the works on show received awards and recognition from Koestler last August. Sally worked with fellow Star Worker, Debbie Smith, and Positive Urban Arts tutors Louise Sheridan and Chris Millen to organise the exhibition in just over a month. Sally said: “The benefits of the project are to show that art is a therapeutic support for mentally ill prisoners and can be a force for changing their lives as they discover creative talents which support rehabilitation and a positive approach forward.”
Governor Carmichael said: “Art can help improve prisoners’ health and wellbeing and can play an important role in resettlement and re-integration into society.”
Cllr Bobbin said: “I’m impressed by the quality of the art on display. I think it’s so important that prisoners can find something that’s constructive and gives them confidence in their own abilities.”
Director of Forensic and Prison Services, John Enser, said: “It’s really exciting to see an exhibition of prisoner art displayed in the local community and great to see the interest from staff, prisoners and the public. I’m very grateful to our staff for being instrumental in supporting art in prisons.”
NHS England Commissioning Manager for Offender Health, Nick Watkin, commented: It’s a fantastic example of what can be achieved when people are encouraged and supported to channel their energies into positive outcomes. Oxleas has done a fantastic job ensuring good outcomes for prisoners which is what we expect mental health services to do in prisons.”
We provide mental health in-reach services to HMP Elmley and Swaleside which are part of the Sheppey Cluster of Kent prisons.