Closing at the end of the month at the South Bank Centre in London is an exhibition of art created by a unique group of artists – prisoners, offenders on community sentences, secure psychiatric patients and immigration detainees. “Catching Dreams” is the seventh exhibition in collaboration with the Koestler Trust the prison-arts charity and not only displays a wide range of artwork, it has also been curated by by eight ex-offenders who completed a programme of mentoring with the Koestler Trust’s artist mentors.
The range of art is broad and of impressive quality. The sculptures make imaginative re-use of scrap materials and the quality of the woodwork and the ceramics would match that seen in many Mayfair galleries.
Similar programmes exist elsewhere – in Mexico, prisoners create “designer” leather goods – purses, handbags, ipad holders and the like using tattoo designs, which are sold in retail outlets, for example in Playa de Carmen, and in New York RTA (Rehabilitation Through the Arts), founded in Sing Sing in 1996, is active in five New York State prisons with imaginative programs in theatre, dance, creative writing, voice and visual art, using the creative arts as a tool to change the lives of prisoners.
Art can make a difference!