Hunt Museum exhibits prisoners’ artwork

ARTWORK created by prisoners is being exhibited at the Hunt Museum.

The Open Minds exhibition showcases work by people in Ireland who are in custody as well as ex-offenders in Post Release Centres.

All pieces included in the exhibition are anonymous and visitors are encouraged to approach the artwork with an open mind and to see beyond the crimes of its creators.

It aims to show that despite incarceration prisoners and ex-offenders are still part of the community and are capable of creating pieces with high artistic quality.

Arts Officer for the Irish Prison Service, Tom Shortt says the exhibition is universal and unifying.

“Every two years we host this art event to show that prison isn’t all bad. We aim to show the public that there is rehabilitation within the prison system.

“This is the second part of this exhibition; it started in Tallaght, Dublin. After this exhibition in the Hunt Museum it will be moving to Portlaoise,” he adds.

Tom Shortt pictured with a portrait of Jimmy Hendrix made of guitar picks.

A visitor of the exhibition, Mary O’Hehir, who works for senior groups on the Southside of Limerick, was overwhelmed by the display.

“It is not what I expected it to be. The standard of art is so high and touching, you can read the stories behind the person who has been convicted.   

“Every one of the group remarked how the works on display touched them deeply and we are all in awe of the whole exhibition.  

“It is wonderful to see that prisoners are helped with rehabilitation and are willing to vocalise how they feel through art.”

Ms O’Hehir was especially moved by the piece Boat Collision which originated from the Midlands Prison.

Boat Collision.
Boat Collision.

The prisoner, who was a fisherman in his previous life, gathered unwanted clay and discovered that he had an artistic flare.

Boat Collision symbolises the memories that the prisoner had of the sea.

Engaging in the arts allows prisoners opportunities for expression. A lot of the pieces express personal, social or political statements.

“For the public to engage in this event it is an act of restorative justice, when you view the works you see the person behind the crimes they have carried out- you see the human side,” Mary explains.

Mary with the group visiting the exhibition.
Mary and Tom with the Southside Seniors Group visiting the exhibition.

The free Open Minds exhibition is available to view at the Hunt Museum until November 24th.

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