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Art by Prisoners Exhibition at Adelaide Festival Centre

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by Drew Harten (subscribe)
I am an art educator, passionate about promoting South Australian art and design. Visit my blog at
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Art by Prisoners an exhibition at the Festival Centre
This is a really interesting exhibition of artworks by people in South Australia's adult prisons. As a continuation of a 3 year Flinders University study, the aim of this exhibition is to examine the impact of prison art within and beyond the confines of the prison.

Serenity, painting, acrylic, prison art
Serenity-Anonymous artist

The idea was inspired by a similar initiative in the United Kingdom. The work in this show is surprising in a few ways. Some of the work is what you would expect, in that it explores the "rougher" or "darker" side of human experience. However; the majority of the work explores themes in completely the opposite direction. What is clear is that a lot of the work seems to be used by prisoners as an outlet. It is clearly very therapeutic.

Exhibition, prison art, festival centre gallery
The exhibition is filled with a lot of surprises.

All of the artworks were created in response to an open invitation to participate and were selected by a panel.

Butterfish landscape, aboriginal, prison, art
Butterfish landscape- Anonymous artist

The Aboriginal artworks in this exhibition are simply outstanding. They are colourful and communicate strong ties with the land, even though they are incarcerated this link is very evident. It was interesting to read that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people form 2% of the South Australian population but make up 23% of the prison population.

escape artist, acrylic, painting, prison art
Escape Artist- Anonymous artist

Of course the artist's identities must remain anonymous for obvious reasons, though much of the work is for sale. There is even a people's choice award for the most popular work. You are able to vote and your comments will be forwarded to the inmate. All sales go to recovering the costs of the exhibition and any left over money will be used for victims of crime.

ceramics, dolls, mugs, prison, artworks
Even ceramics feature with some prisons having a kiln on site

This exhibition is in its fourth year and offers not only a glimpse into prison life but at the same time speaks about the power of art to heal and transform. It is an exhibition I would recommend attending.
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When: Wednesday- Sunday 11am- 4pm
Where: Adelaide Festival Centre Gallery
Cost: free
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