Great Prison Art Exchange

Great Prison Art Exchange

Sara Downham-Lotto & Chris Sargent – March 2018 ongoing

Reducing self harm and suicide in male prisoners.

Transforming spaces inside and outside prison with artist-prisoner collaborative artwork.

‘The project encourages inclusivity and is challenging in a good way. It took me outside of my comfort zone and connecting with others. I felt encouraged watching other people’s eyes open to art and seeing their inspiration firing outside of the session. I think it encorages self-expression and I hope that we can keep it going.’ 

Dartmoor prisoner

‘I want to express my gratitude to Arts Lab for their commitment to our art project over the past year. I am very proud of what we have achieved. It has been very special and my involvement has been a highlight of my time spent as Safer Custody Manager.

 Moving forward, I dearly hope that you manage to secure the necessary funding, there is no doubt that the sessions improved the lives of those involved and has played a part in making the Dartmoor community a little safer. My hope is that you will now manage to get some of the wonderful work up on the walls, it is a credit to the participants and its presence will brighten up the day for those who pass by.’ 

Safer Custody Manager, HMP Dartmoor

The Great Prison Art Exchange is a Big Lottery funded project that uses art to reduce  instances of male suicide and self harm at HMP Dartmoor. Conveying a positive message of hope and opportunity to permeate prison and community environments, Arts Lab runs artist-led workshops with prisoners and community groups culminating in collaboratively created artwork to uplift and transform spaces inside and outside of the prison establishment.

From February 7th – 14th 2020, Arts Lab is holding an exhibition – ‘Inside Out’ – bringing together artwork from workshops inside the prison, individual pieces created in cells between sessions and work started in the prison and finished outside by Sara. Unless otherwise stated, all work will be for sale, the proceeds of which will go towards sustaining the project. Click here  >>> for more information.

‘Through shared creative making, we make the first steps towards positive change. We talk, we laugh, we learn and begin to trust each other, build self-esteem and build relationships.’

Sara Downham-Lotto

For further reading, see Journal post: Why prisoners love abstract art


Artist, Offender rehabilitation & prisons