Art produced by prisoners in Ireland’s jails is now showing at a free exhibition at Rua Red Gallery in the South Dublin Arts Centre in Tallaght, until Saturday 5 October.
Opening the exhibition on Thursday, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said that bringing the works into a public arena was a reminder to us that people in prison have not simply disappeared but are still part of the community to which they will return.
The artworks have been created by students in 13 prison education centres and in two post-release centres. They include paintings, drawings, sculpture, mosaic, video and ceramics. The works were selected and curated by internationally renowned artist, Brian Maguire.
Learning the skills associated with the arts allows prisoners to uncover positive aspects of their own potential as creative people, and for some this may provide a career opportunity into the future, the minister said.
Minister Flanagan also highlighted the value of education for those in custody and, in particular, the role of the creative arts in promoting personal development and a move towards rehabilitation and desistance from crime.
Educational services are available at all Irish prison institutions and are provided in partnership with the Education and Training Boards, and a range of other educational agencies.
Artist in Prison Scheme
Creative arts programmes are an integral part of the curriculum – the most popular arts are the visual arts, music, writing and drama.
The Irish Prison Service co-funds the ‘Artist in Prison Scheme’ with the Arts Council, and many of the exhibited works have been created in workshops hosted under this scheme.
“Education has a significant role to play in helping persons in custody cope with their sentences, whilst also improving their employability and their future life chances,” the minister said.
“Education also helps to prepare persons in custody for release by providing them with accredited education programmes, combined with soft skills to enhance their personal development.
“One of the other primary aims of the prison education service is to support persons in custody to develop a desire for lifelong learning.”
The minister said that Ireland’s partnership approach to the provision of education in Irish prisons is a model that works very effectively, and compares very well with the education services provided to people in custody in other jurisdictions.
He pointed out that many of the subjects taught are linked with a trade or craft, and these have the potential to provide employment.