If you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s because I’m in Prison (!)

Yes, I’m taking part in an Artist-in-Prison Project – but thankfully, I don’t have to stay in overnight. So what’s it like? Well, there was an awful lot of form-filling at the start. That’s for the Arts Council. You need to write a proposal – what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, what materials you plan to use, your aims and objectives (needless to say, you have to know the difference between aims and objectives first). There are so many boxes to tick.

After that, there’s a lot of doors. You stand and wait outside a steel door. Wary eyes look out at you through a little square window. The door opens, you identify yourself, then you’re passed on to the next door; the same again. I must say, the Prison Officers are very thorough but generally speaking, they are friendly.

work from Prison art class

But then I suppose it’s like any art class. One of my aims was to broaden the students’ awareness of the possibilities and scope of art, in particular by exploring the use of recycled materials. In other words, we were making art out of cardboard. But no, it wasn’t like any other art class. Some of these fellas had never done art before, hadn’t done much school at all, probably. So they end up in prison anyway and somebody suggests an art class… what feels wonderful to me is: seeing somebody realising that they can do something, something they’d never even dreamed of, something that they could be good at, if they gave it some time…  and that’s one thing they have in here, plenty of time.

The work above was made by a student, what do you think of that?

PS: Not sure what it is about me and prisons but – see an exhibition of mine, in a former jail at:


and another at:




    • Thanks John and thanks for sharing my post on facebook. I think we all enjoy it, the students and me. It certainly is different to our normal lives – me, away from my solitary studio life and they, in some cases trying out something totally different to their normal stuff. One guy who only did pencil drawings before this, he created a book out of cardboard – and painted all the pages in colour!!!


  1. Hi Eoin,

    It’s great to have a project rich in experience and discovery for both yourself and the people attending your classes.

    The piece of art you are showing is interesting. It uses ordinary materials and yet the spiral pattern created has aesthetic qualities.
    Is there a symbolic meaning attached to the piece?


    • Thanks for your comment Nathalie. This man was talking to me about the long road he had to go down before he got out of prison. He came up with this completely on his own. I just supplied the cardboard. I picked this piece because I thought it illustrated my post very nicely – with the layers of bureaucracy and the door after door and the long corridors…


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