26 September 2023

Prison art to get a public airing

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In a first for the State, a gallery of ‘prisoner art’ has opened in the grounds of an operational prison.

Palya Walkaly-Walkalyp a, or Good Coloured Patterns in the Ngaanyatjarra language, is housed on the site of the Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison.

Artworks created by men and women in custody in the Goldfields region will be displayed in the gallery, which will hold public open days between 4pm and 7pm on the first Tuesday of every month.

Director General of the Department of Justice, Adam Tomison said art programs played an instrumental role in rehabilitation.

“For Aboriginal prisoners in particular, art can be an important bridge to culture and Country,” Dr Tomison said.

“This connection is vital given the over-representation of Aboriginal men, women and young people in the criminal justice system.”

He said art also formed a conduit to traditional education for many reluctant learners by helping to break down barriers to the classroom.

Commissioner of Corrective Services, Mike Reynolds said creating and showcasing artwork was an opportunity for positive recognition.

“Inviting the public into the gallery to potentially purchase these works helps to instil a sense of pride in the prisoners who create them,” Commissioner Reynolds said.

“People in custody have often had troubled lives, and to create something that is valued by others is deeply meaningful for them.

“It gives them a sense of identity, belonging and confidence,” he said.

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