Inspiring creativity and encouraging personal and social change through the arts

The Prison Arts Foundation is as important as it is unique. Thanks to our pioneering work with people with convictions lives are being transformed and patterns of behaviour changed for good.

Our team of experienced professional artists working across the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland are offering people with convictions a life-line, helping to improve their creative and communications skills, which is key to personal and social development, building self-confidence and unlocking people’s potential.

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Embracing Art

2 Royal Avenue, Belfast

14 – 25 March 2023

Prison Arts Foundation’s annual showcase of art by serving prisoners at Maghaberry, Magilligan and Hydebank Wood College & Women’s Prison, secure patients at Shannon Clinic, and ex-offenders in the community.

This year’s show was curated by our artists in residence to include works in line with Belfast City Council’s theme of ‘A City Imaging’. The exhibition features a wide range of artforms including painting, drawing, matchstick modelling, craft, music, and writing.

It is important for PAF to engage the public in our work to raise awareness and understanding of art by prisoners, to challenge public perception and encourage greater reintegration of ex-offenders into society.

Patricia Lavery, Head of Community Arts & Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support the Prison Arts Foundation who carry out exemplary work with serving prisoners and ex-offenders, helping to bring great art to all and use the arts as a tool for rehabilitation and reintegration.  I would encourage everyone to attend the Embracing Art exhibition at 2 Royal Avenue in Belfast and enjoy the wide range of artworks on display.”

Our exhibition is free to attend, opens daily from 10am-6pm and features Audience Feedback Cards, on which visitors can write feedback to be sent directly to the artists, providing our students with an opportunity to connect with people outside prison. When we sell artworks on behalf of our students, a donation of 25% is made to Victim Support.

In conjunction with the exhibition, we are launching an Embracing Art anthology. These creative pieces have been selected to bring together a variety of different writers’ voices and as a broader representation of what’s going on in the PAF creative writing class at Magilligan prison. Included are works by writers who have been writing for years and others who have only been writing for a few weeks. The writings selected communicate a wide range of subject matter that all incorporate, showcase and are crucially ‘embracing art’.

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