Art and Prison

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By Daniel Wilson

First Australians are suffering such a disproportionately high incarceration rate that prison is seen as a rite of passage.

A St Kilda based project called The Torch has as given some of these prisoners a way of expressing themselves through art, and build the skills and confidence to ease their path back into the community. Central to the program is cultural learning, strengthening, expression and sharing.

Chairman of The Torch, and former Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett has successfully lobbied the government to allow these prisoners to sell their art. Most of the proceeds will be kept in trust for the prisoner until their release.

Their art can be seen at two exhibitions in St Kilda, one at the Town Hall and another at Alliance Française.

Chief executive of The Torch, Kent Morris, started the program and has been running it for the past four years. It’s currently running at 12 prisons. It is about “strengthening cultural identity and expressing that through artwork” Morris explains. “It’s not just about making art, it’s about improving knowledge and awareness and building self-esteem and confidence.”

While Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island peoples represent 0.6% of the general population in Victoria, they represent 8% of our prison population. “There is a massive overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system across the country, and also high rates of re-offending, so it’s a serious social issue,” Morris explains.

 

CONFINED EXHIBITION

WED 10 FEB– WED 9 MAR

MON–FRI: 8.30AM–5PM

SAT: 12PM–4PM

The Gallery, St Kilda Town Hall, 99A Carlisle St, St Kilda

 

Now in its seventh year, CONFINED features artworks by Indigenous artists currently in or recently released from custody in Victoria.

 

DHUMBADHA MUNGA (TALKING KNOWLEDGE)

WED 3 FEB – WED 24 MAR

MON–THU: 9.30AM–8PM

FRI: 9.30AM–6PM

SAT: 9AM–6PM

CLOSED SUNDAY

Alliance Francaise’s Eildon Gallery, 51 Grey St, St Kilda

 

Dhumbadha Munga – Talking Knowledge, in the language of the Boonwurrung people, looks at the two way relationship between the arts workers and the artists they support.Through dhumbadha munga they learn, develop and reinforce their cultural identity and express and share their stories through art.

As it has done so for generations, Indigenous Culture remains alive through talking and sharing knowledge.

Artists: Simon Glass, Jeffrey Jackson, Robby Knight, Shane Lovett, Paul McCann, Kent Morris, Garry Scott, Steve Verde, Peter Waples Crowe, Raymond Young.

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