Art Of Offenders A Criminal Education

Art of Offenders

“Cry of a Caged Bird” Royal Festival Hall London  – review

“Fascinating in theme, remarkable in artistic quality, and always moving, this is the UK’s annual showcase of visual arts, film, music and writing by prisoners and others in secure settings.”

This outsider exibition is curated by a number of different volunteer Magistrates, whom under went some training with well known Artists. Potter Emma Bridgewater and  Garyson Perry were called to be judges to the awards. The exhibition has sold well with prices within the average householders range. As political talking points to investments, prices range up to £500.00, or priceless ( not for sale). This is a selling exhibition, many of the Art works included in the Art of offender’s exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall’s exhibition are of genuine artistic distinction and originality, as well as expressing the state of mind that these Jail-birds have been through. The outstanding drawings of Jamaican Artist Rohan Clarke also taking part in the Barge house Exhibition with African and African –Caribbean design Diaspora is the proud winner of a Platinum Award for a highly accomplished drawing titled “ Out of Darkness” shown by the Koestler Trust , and “ Cry of a caged bird” a Bronze award included in the Barge house exhibition. In conversation with Rohan Clarke, he spoke about his crime and the six months he spent in prison and the time he dedicated to the drawings, and the injustice behind the offence, now with two awards it has really paid off. Rohan had a keen interest in his childhood for drawing, but only took to drawing during his time in prison. “Out of Darkness growth”, a highly skilled drawing awarded the platinum award describes an elderly mans portrait with pain etched on his forhead , in front sits a young boy guarding the older man with weapons as the prisoner, the growth symbolic of the mental confusion as the old man looks to the young boy. The other award winning drawing is called “Cry of as caged bird” a very sensitive detailed drawing of the head of a young boy with several eyes looking out to space with innocence’s , around the neck is a “dogs chained collar” and around his wrists are “hand-cuffs chained” the boy clutches some opium poppies, the British branding the English Rose? it depicts the screams of a caged bird in turmoil, with hightend sight of the “cyclops” with three very innocent eyes. The style very surreal but a very confident drawing in fine pencil line in the style of Rene Magritte. The exhibition is cur rated by the volunteer magistrates, Mary Brodick ,Pierce Brunt, Pauline Burdon, Marie Fow, Jane Gillespie, Agnes Grunwald-Spier, Jo Kings man, Helen Lloyd, Susan Shaw, Devendrea Singh , Steve Williams and Kim Wooldridge which is unusual, and the magistrates have themselves found it an eye –opener. So very many people before the bench have great difficulty with verbal communications, and to quote one of the victims voice “Art seems such a highly powerful and positive way for them to express themselves and release feelings of longing and frustration’s..” “We used our training in decision making! we all looked at every artwork(heard the facts). We made our assessments and presented the individual “choices” to the group. Listen to the evidence and considered it fairly) and we allowed a show of hands that went with the majority.The Sponsors are The Magistrates Association The Ministry of Justice , The Co-operative and the Koestler Trust

The Crime -Behind the Man whom won both awards:

Rohan Clarke was arrested by Southwark’s burglary squad on 8 April 2009 and sentenced to 2 years in prison at the Inner London Crown Court on 4 December 2009. He pleaded guilty to the offences.The payback unit then began their investigation which concluded that Clarke had profited almost £21,000 from his crimes and on Friday 18 June a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act was handed down at the Inner London Crown Court stating that Clarke must pay the sum of £20,895 within six months or serve a further year in prison.”Criminals like Clarke are motivated by greed and the payback unit will ensure that as well as paying for their crime in custody, they are also hit where it really hurts, in their pockets,” says Detective Constable Nish Doshi from the payback unit.”Clarke’s proceeds of crime will now be put to better use on worthwhile projects within the criminal justice system.” And Mr Clarkes Art is Not for Sale in this exhibition it has to be priceless, it has to be a statement , it has to be two award winning drawings out of 7,000 interested people, within the six months he spent inside. Why ? No man can scream like Edward Munch or a caged a bird? Is there any Justice in the World!

The outcomes through Art:

The Koestler trust is the best known prison arts charity which has been awarding exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients for 49 years and works on the principle that to make our society  safer , it pays to channel offenders energies to positive ends to build there self worth and help them learn new skills. The arts are especially effective way of engaging with offenders whom feel alienated from main stream education and employmentand the evidence that the arts are effective in changing offenders lives. Art a powerful form of comminication it deals with the unconscious mind and dreams both positive and negative. As with Barack Obamas lines behind “Yes we Can!”. It shows you what one voice can do he concludes, one voice can change a room, and if a voice can change a room, it can change a City  it can change a state! And if it can change a state, it can change a nation! And if it can change a nation it can change the world. The art of positive mental attitude , and the  Yes we Can  factor, when it comes to crime and offenders. Show runs Wed 21 Sep 2011 – Sun 20 Nov 2011 Spirit Level and Level 2 Foyers at Royal Festival Hall.  Words: Juliette Goddard 2011 Painting Charlie Nokes 2010 Visit Exhibition