For many people, prisoners and non-prisoners, art is a medium that is used to express ones self. Art can provide an open window into someones mind and dreams and enable them to escape from their reality, if only temporarily. As Thomas Merton said, ‘Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time’. In this case, art can and is aiding in the rehabilitation of individuals and one very unique special prison in the South West of England. Prison’s inherently deprive residents of the ability to feel ‘normal’ and it is seldom heard of improving aesthetics of prisons with prison art, especially when the canvas is a 20 ft metal wall, topped with razor wire. The prisoner who has taken it upon himself for a considerable chunk of his sentence, has managed to alter the views of those who were against him and his approach to improving the prison by literally brightening up the unattractive, demeaning and soul destroying interiors and exteriors of the prison grounds he resides in, with spray paint and creative paintings. The spirit and determination of this individual is visible all around the grounds, almost everywhere that colour did not exist, it now does, and the effect and overall appearance is outstanding and unique. On top of all this, He also creates individualised art work for other residents and staff to have. The PRS team consistently receive intelligent and thought-provoking works of art that are personalised and tailored to them. This man also has a talent for raw honest writing which you can see some of below; it provides readers with a unique insight into the reality of prisons whilst clearly evidencing his determination and willingness to rehabilitate himself and others which he contributes to for one example by creating posters on awareness of the effects of ‘spice’, pleading, encouraging and supporting users of the drug to stop.
In his own words and later followed by some further images of his art, He tells us what art means to him. Enjoy!
‘Art. What does it mean to me, wow, that is the question! Art has come to mean everything to me, it has taken hold inside me like wildfire. I never thought I had the ability to be passionate or interested in anything like I am with art. I paint, I draw, I colour, I create anything and everything I love to look at, and i appreciate a great range of work by other artists. I even get emotional if I see a work of art that inspires me. I have barely touched the surface as I am held back by the confines of the place I am in, but I still manage to paint and create pieces for everyone here. I have even managed to acquire spray paints to colour the outside as well! There is no greater feeling for me than creating something for someone without them knowing you were going to make it for them and watching their face light up with joy. To give someone something unique is amazing. I let my art evolve by itself. I use many mediums; pencils, pens, but paint is my favourite. When I discovered paint it was a eureka moment! Now I mix spray paint with acrylics, I explode gel pens and luminous high lighter ink to create an effect. I have also started using glitter in my paintings which brings it all to life. The possibilities are endless! I paint on anything I can find in here, any bit of wood or board. This thing called art is growing with me as a person, I have been clear of drugs for over a year. The longer I am clean the more my passion for art grows. I have a superpower of creativity inside me. Soon I will be a free man and I can create some amazing stuff in the real world with no limits of boundaries, and more stuff to use. I plan on using my art as a way of helping people for all those who may be about to step down a similarly dark road that I did in my past’.