Review: Prisons – the role arts can play

Category: Speakers

On Sunday 1st October we were pleased to welcome Angela Findlay to speak about the role arts can play in prisons. Angela worked closely with offenders for over twenty years, exploring how art can be used to facilitate and enable change.

Angela started her talk by showing us some statistics of the UK prison population, which has risen by 82% in the last 30 years. Suicide rates are over ten times higher in custody than amongst the general population and 44% of adult prisoners are reconvicted within one year of release. Despite the bleak picture about the effectiveness of prisons that these figures sketch, in the second part of her talk, Angela spoke about signs of hope and change she had seen in the prisons in which she worked.

By showing some of the artwork that prisoners created, Angela discussed how painting, sculpture and other forms of art had helped prisoners think about boundaries, identity, the consequences of their actions, as well as forgiveness and reconciliation. Based on her own experience, Angela shared a number of moving stories real positive change in individuals, who often were surprised themselves by their own ability and worth.

Angela’s talk was a challenging start to our series of Sunday Talks, confronting us with the desperate situation in which many prisoners find themselves, as well as showing signs of hope and making us think about what we have in common with one another.

The Revd Dr Janneke Blokland
Assistant Chaplain

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