Last year I spent a few months working with Prison Arts Foundation in Hydebank Wood College with artist and teacher Anne Scullin. PAF manage freelance resident artists, who work part time as practicing artists and part time in prisons running classes for inmates.
Lock ‘em up and throw away the key. How many times do we hear that phrase used in the context of prisoners? If we mechanically process everyone together then we don’t have to see the individual, we don’t have to look at someone’s background, and we certainly don’t have to think about that person returning to our communities.
On 14th March 2018 the Prison Arts Foundation held an event in Crumlin Road Gáol in Belfast called ‘Libération’. It was an exhibition of art, writing and music by serving prisoners in HMP Maghaberry, HMP Magilligan, Hydebank Wood College and Women’s Prison and Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre. This year’s showcase also featured art works, live performances and recordings of writing by mentees taking part in our new community arts based mentoring programme.
An inquiry into the impact of participation in Prison Arts Foundation’s programmes by Dr Shelley Tracey. The report explores the impact and benefits of our programmes, through the lenses of 14 particpants. These include 6 individuals who have continued with their arts practice since release, and current members of our creative writing group in HMP Magilligan.
Excelling at the annual Koestler awards has become something of a tradition for our Creative Writing and Music groups in HMP Magilligan. This year was no exception and the ceremony held today in HMP Magilligan, Northern Ireland Prison Services’ medium to low security prison, sees the presentation of 17 Awards by PAF’s Executive Director Fred Caulfield.
Tom McGonigle has always appreciated the work we at the Prison Arts Foundation undertake with offenders within the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland. With this in mind PAF commissioned a student who engages in our visual art workshops in Hydebank Wood College to create a piece of art to mark Tom’s retirement from his role as Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.