Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Exhibition of art by offenders

There are just a few days left to see the inspirational Koestler Trust exhibition of art by offenders and secure patients at the Royal Festival Hall. I am so pleased to have got to it. My especial interest was in the young people’s works on display, because of the training I give on engaging with young offenders. I found their art moving and poignant, and in some cases beautiful, disturbing or funny. I was delighted that the fabulous 1066 animation made by young people with the Norfolk Youth Offending Team and the Castle Museum, which I have blogged about before, is on show, and has won a special award for animation for under-18s. There is another fabulous animation, Call for Help,  about a trip to Hell, made by a group of six young offenders at Blair House YOI. Disappoint Man, a tellingly-named portrait by an anonymous inmate at Feltham YOI, is troubling and enigmatic: does the face portray fear, aggression, distrust, or perhaps all of these? The blurb written by the anonymous creator of a lovely picture called Snowfields, who comes from a secure children’s home in Scotland, particularly struck me: ‘I was not interested in art at all until I was placed into a secure centre. I believe art has helped to increase my confidence in myself.’ Underlining this, a poster in the exhibition demonstrates the impact of the arts on young offenders’ lives: 75% of young offenders who participated in summer arts colleges run by Unitas in 2009 went onto further education, training or employment.