When there’s plenty of time…

landscape painting by prisoner

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.

cardboard collage, work from Prison art class

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?




  1. Thanks Eoin ; In the Green Party some of us are working on Supported-Housing Policy ( join us, weekly for a half hour, online ?) including for those emerging from custodial care , for example from our over-occupied prisons (but I can think of a few in white collars and suits I would send in there !) ; ‘floating supports’ are very important to help prisoners , having ‘served their time’ , to find their way, their route of progression , in Society again and that can be daunting and lead to avoidable recidivism ; Am I dreaming to imagine that moment as appropriate for Art again to provide social space that is purposeful , even online , and build the féin mhuinín , so crucial then ; I admire what you do with prisoners ; this thought might help continue it , ‘outside’ , while Covid Restrictions last ?


Leave a Reply, I'd like to hear your viewpoint.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s