Prisoners tapping into the healing power of creating art

Headshot of Kellie Balaam
Kellie BalaamAlbany Advertiser
One example of prison art.
Camera IconOne example of prison art. Credit: supplied/supplied

Art can be a wonderful therapy.

For people who like to paint or create, letting those creative juices flow can be calming and can also provide a sense of purpose.

That is why I think involving prisoners in art is a great initiative.

In the news this week, two inmates at Pardelup Prison Farm will work with Mt Barker’s police officer-in-charge to create a mural that will illustrate the Noongar connection to the Great Southern landscape.

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The mural project will be the first of several events in the Shire of Plantagenet acknowledging Noongar people and their culture during NAIDOC Week.

Once complete, the mural will find its new home on a wall at the prison farm’s visitor centre.

I think projects like these that engage prisoners in art can be really beneficial, not only for the prisoners, but the community as well.

Having the opportunity to still be involved in creative expression behind bars could help hone someone’s talent or reveal a newfound hobby they can pursue in and out of prison.

Sergeant David Johnson painting his Co-op mural.
Camera IconSergeant David Johnson painting his Co-op mural. Credit: Daryna Zadvirna

Another example of prison art and freedom of expression can be found right here in Albany.

Aboriginal arts and tour company Kurrah Mia is helping provide an outlet for Indigenous prisoners at Albany Regional Prison by selling their artwork through the Kurrah Mia gallery.

The prisoners’ partners collect the completed paintings from the prison and take them to Kurrah Mia’s Middleton Loop store, where they can be displayed for sale.

Speaking to Inspire back in August, Kurrah Mia co-owner and Noongar man Ron Grey said the partnership was a win-win situation.

“They support us, we support them, the money goes straight back to their families and it keeps our shop full of art,” Mr Grey said.

At the time, Mr Grey said he believed such opportunities could help troubled people reconnect with culture.

“We are trying to work with the community and we don’t judge, we just look at the art,” he said.

Having that outlet to express emotions, stories and culture is surely a positive way of giving back to the community.

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