Back to Exhibitions

04 Jul 2011 - 21 Jul 2011

Insider Art exhibition, an exhibition of art work from prisoners, is part of the annual conference of the British Society of Criminology.

An exhibition of art work from prisoners will be displayed in July in Gallery North, Northumbria University.  The exhibition will be opened during the annual conference of British Society of Criminology which, this year, is being hosted by Northumbria University, in the Department of Social Sciences/School of Arts and Social Sciences.  

Prisons from around the region, including HMP Frankland and HMP Durham, and HMP Grendon from the south of England, are taking part in the exhibition and will be sending art work to be displayed.  

The art work, which includes watercolours, textile art and sculpture as well as items of creative writing, has all been produced by prisoners who are currently serving sentences.  

Charlotte Bilby and Louise Ridley, both Senior Lecturers in Criminology, are part of the curating team of the exhibition and explain:

"Some of the pieces tell stories of how the prisoners feel about being imprisoned, but prisoners often say that the process of making the work is more important to them than the topic. Expressing yourself in a creative way, whether through painting, playing a musical instrument or taking part in drama, is part of what it is to be human.  If we aim to punish people humanely, then it is important that creative activities are part of life in prisons.  

Taking part in art classes helps develop social skills, which are important in the government criminal justice "rehabilitation revolution" agenda. We are delighted by the response to the exhibition that we have had from prison staff and prisoners and we hope that we will continue to build on the good relationships that we have established through this exhibition."

Alan Tallentire, Deputy Director Custody for National Offender Management Service (NOMS) in the North East says "Many prisoners have not achieved any academic qualifications in school. Art allows them to gain self-confidence and self worth, which helps to address their offending behaviour and rehabilitation."

Helen Baker-Alder, Director of Gallery North says "this is the first time Gallery North has exhibited art by prisoners and this is an exciting new venture".

The exhibition opening will be attended by over 300 delegates from the annual conference of the British Society of Criminology as well as staff from the regional prisons.  While none of the artists will be able to visit the gallery, photographs of their exhibited work will be shown to them during prison art classes, and visitors will be encouraged to write about the exhibition on postcards which will be returned to the artists by prison staff.

For more information, contact Charlotte Bilby - charlotte.bilby@northumbria.ac.uk