Held 14th September to 12th October 2018
This was a spilt site exhibition
at Soft Touch Arts, 50 New Walk, Leicester
and Leicester New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, 53 New Walk, Leicester
This exhibition was a collection of works created by men serving sentences at HMP Leicester, HMP Stocken, and the now-closed HMP Glen Parva, as well as those who have completed their sentences and returned to their communities. Over a period of several months, Soft Touch Arts arts workers worked with groups of prisoners and offenders to facilitate various arts projects with a view to exhibiting their work to the general public. Participants worked on a broad range of themes and in different media, while creating artworks that draw attention away from the usual visual surroundings of the prison environment and create a more peaceful and inspirational mood. The results were on display at Leicester Museum and at Soft Touch Arts. A selection can be seen here:
Inside Outside – Prison Art Exhibition
The Inside Outside Prison Art Exhibition is a culmination of months of hard work by a dedicated group of young men at HMP Glen Parva, who create artwork for themselves, for loved ones and to brighten up the prison surroundings.
The Inside Outside Prison Art Exhibition is a culmination of months of hard work by a dedicated group of young men at HMP Glen Parva, who meet once a week within the prison to plan and create artwork for themselves, for loved ones and to brighten up the prison surroundings. Kieran and Lewis from Soft Touch Arts work closely with NHS staff from the Therapeutic Drug and Alcohol Support (TDAS) team to deliver the project. It has now been running for over a year and a half and has engaged almost 100 prisoners, some for short periods and others for the majority of their sentences.
“The project offers a chance for participants to improve mental health, self-esteem and sense of achievement.” Natasha Garraway-Charles, LPT head of healthcare at Glen Parva.
The TDAS team have identified young men involved in this project as vulnerable due to substance misuse and/or mental health issues and often struggling to cope with the prison environment. They meet as a group every Thursday in a designated art room, away from their prison units, where they are free to talk, mix and be creative in a relaxed environment.
“I was with one prisoner, someone we have serious concerns about with suicide attempts, and he told me that the art sessions are about the only thing he looks forward to in the prison.” TDAS worker, Glen Parva.
During the sessions, Kieran and Lewis work closely with individuals to plan and execute artistic ideas, while the TDAS team are able to have personal discussions with the prisoners while also taking part in the activities. It is a very friendly environment which prisoners and staff alike look forward to each week.
“It helps me to relax and cope with my mental health. Normally I get irritated and angry and I can lash out – this has shown me a way to keep calm. I draw a lot in my cell now which keeps me calmer.” BF, prisoner at HMP Glen Parva.
Relationships between staff and prisoners become very strong and it is an ideal environment to allow the prisoners to discuss their problems and make plans for the future.
Some of them have already begun attending Soft Touch sessions on their release, while others have engaged better in education at the prison as their confidence has improved. The project demonstrates an extremely effective method of partnership working, where everyone supports each other.
“I’ve grown in confidence a lot during the sessions. When I’m there I feel safe, which is a big thing for me.” JL, prisoner at HMP Glen Parva.
This is the second exhibition by the young men at HMP Glen Parva. The first took place last year at the Visitors Centre at the prison and has become a permanent display there.
Having the opportunity to show their work on the outside has meant a great those involved.
“It’s helped me to be creative, it really is therpeutic. Looking at the large angry figure I’m working on, it kept coming into my mind – ‘do you know what you are fighting for?’ My character is violent and fights everything, and I’ve thought how I want to be – which isn’t like that.” WP, prisoner at HMP Glen Parva.
As many of them are still serving their sentences they were not able to see the show themselves, so guests that attended the exhibition here at Soft Touch, wrote down their comments and were filmed giving their feedback about the artwork, which was edited into a short film by DMU student Catherine Baker, and then taken into the prison to show all of the prisoners what people thought of their work.
We would like to thank everyone who was helped make this project happen, and we hope that it can continue at Glen Parva as it is evident that it is very important.
A few comments left by visitors were:
“All the Glen Parva guys have worked really hard and made some beautiful artwork. Well done! Keep up the good work!”
Name of piece: Anti Drugs “I am so impressed, this really moved me. Brilliant. Good luck x.”
SUPPORTED BY THE CHARITY OF CARLTON HAYES AND BLABY DISTRICT COUNCIL
A “pop up” prison cell is being used to teach young people about the reality of receiving a jail sentence.
The Crime and Time initiative saw the realistic portable cell taken to schools, youth groups and groups of young people identified as being at risk of offending.
As well as youngsters being able to see for themselves the inside of a cell, they got the chance to speak to “peer mentors” from the probation service about their own experiences of custody.
These volunteers have either been in prison themselves or have served a community sentence and now give up their time to educate others about the consequences of crime.
Leicestershire County Council’s Youth Offending Service, Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Trust and Soft Touch Arts, which designed the cell have worked on the project.
Probation service peer mentor Beverley Castor said: “I think it’s great we can share and show the young people what it’s like to be on the wrong side of the law.
“It also shows how it’s not cool to get arrested and how scary it can be, especially when the young people get the chance to see how it would feel to be locked up in our mock cell.”
The Shoot! magazine and podcasts are peer education resources about gun and knife crime. Most of the young people who contributed had been involved in these types of crimes themselves, as perpetrators or victims.
The media is full of images of young people being shot or stabbed by other young people.
But it is not often that the voices of these teenagers – and their opinions about gun and knife crime – are given an airing. The materials produced by Shoot! give young people’s experiences and views.
Whilst producing the magazine and podcasts the young people involved gained greater awareness of issues such as consequences, impact on victims, relevance of cultural experience and poor decision making. The materials come accompanied with an activities sheet which encourage other young people to think through these issues.
Shoot! was funded by Media Box via Leicester Youth Offending Service
Suspect Magazine was been produced by young offenders in and out of prison. The magazine looks at gun, knife and gang crime and is aimed at other young people