I was in the middle of teaching a prison workshop when the bold Corona virus came along. So, that put an end to that – but the good news is that there hasn’t been a single case of Covid 19 in Irish prisons to date.
So what was it like, working in prison? Well, there’s a lot of doors. You stand and you wait outside a steel door. Wary eyes peer out at you through a little square window. You identify yourself, the door opens, you’re passed on to the next door, the same again and the same again. The prison officers are very thorough but generally speaking, they are friendly.
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 schooling at all, probably. So they end up in prison anyway and somebody suggests an art class…
What feels wonderful to me is to see 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 there – plenty of time.
The works above was made by my students, what do you think of that?