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.
When I went inside last year, ten days into my sentence, my partner passed away. Everything kind of hit me in one go. My art tutor in Hydebank kept pushing me to get out of my cell and do something. I’m so happy she did that and I’m over the moon with everything that happened since. I’ve got lots out of PAF’s mentoring programme, my mentor Mhairi said that I achieved great success with my art.
With her help I developed skills in ‘Plein air’ (outdoors) observational drawing, still life, composition and perspective studies.
Mhairi said I had a natural flair for colour and abstract mark-making, so my sense of increasing confidence and enjoyment shone through all my work.
It was a pleasure to visit local galleries in the city and exhibitions in Belfast together, including the Time to Change – NI Arts and Mental Health Festival (NIAMHF), which exhibited one of my early artworks, a page poem.
Bella’s Story, Time to Change exhibition NIAMHF
A Fork in the Road’, my first solo exhibition in The Playhouse Derry
Summer Days, Commended Award for Painting, Koestler Arts 2018
The Bird, Highly Commended Award for Painting, Koestler Arts 2018
My biggest achievement was my first exhibition, a one-person showcase in The Playhouse Derry and I submitted work to exhibit in Koestler Art’s ‘I’m Still Here’ exhibition in Southbank Centre, London.
Looking back now I see this all as a powerful record of achievement in a relatively short period of time. I have loved every minute of the mentoring programme. The sessions have really helped me adjust to being back out of prison and the PAF staff and my mentor have inspired me and gave me the confidence to pursue my love of art.