Prisoners spend much of their time locked up in single cells, alone with their thoughts, imagination and lots of time. Over the course of the Great Prison Art Exchange project, each participant has been encouraged to develop their own unique and expressive language through creative exploration and experimentation of art materials and techniques.
Six male prisoners, alone in their cells, created all of the work in this exhibition. They were part of a larger group that, pre-Covid, met fortnightly for 3 hour art workshops with a local abstract artist. Laden down with art materials, paper, primed boards and paint brushes, everyone would leave for their cells, encouraged to explore and discover their own creative process between sessions. Each new group session would begin with a ‘show and tell’ of these discoveries – a highlight – with mugs of tea and biscuits.
The work chosen for this exhibition, highlights the prisoners’ enthusiasm for self-expression through words and paint, together with the expressive value of the stuff of paint itself and the act of painting. In many of the pieces, such as Blot 1 and Orange Sea, ‘magic potion’ inventions were used to create interesting effects. Floor polish, ground crayon pigment, bread, PVA glue, coffee whitener, soap – the resourcefulness was endless.
‘Encouraged to explore new approaches to making art, I’ve discovered that I love painting and all of the things it can do. Each time I make a picture, I discover something new, pleasantly surprised by the end result.’ Dartmoor prisoner
The following pieces from this show are available to purchase as prints at our online shop: Blot 1, Big Drip, Read Between the Lines, Earth Circle. If anything you like here is not in the shop, we can print to order.