How art rehabilitation helps Aboriginal prisoners

Assistant commissioner  Jenni Collard admires art by Aboriginal offenders in prison. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au   d456587
Assistant commissioner Jenni Collard admires art by Aboriginal offenders in prison. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d456587

FOR some Aboriginal prisoners, creating art is more than just putting pretty pictures on a canvas.

For PJ, it gives her confidence, a feeling of self-worth and curbs the urge to offend again.

“When I am painting and creating art it gives me confidence to know I am able to do something good,” she said.

“This gives me a good feeling, a feeling of self-worth.

“Also with this comes a bit of finance which will curb that element of seeking to break the law.”

PJ’s art Marlu Dreaming is one of 38 new paintings by prisoners around the state on public display in Perth as part of the WA Department Corrective Services’ (DCS) first Naidoc Week-inspired exhibition.

PJ said she wanted to continue creating art after she was released from prison.

“I aim to continue with my paintings on the outside,” she said.

“The staff and my peers have given me ideas on how to get my work out on a larger scale.”

Rehabilitation and Reintegration assistant commissioner Jenni Collard said for some prisoners, the art was about discovering their culture.

“For some of them, they are third or fourth generation from those who were removed and they have lost their culture,” she said.

“Some of them have also learnt about art for the first time, which can also offer them a new career opportunity.”

Paintings are available for sale, with 90 per cent of proceeds from each sale going to the artist and the remaining 10 per cent used by DCS to buy art supplies.

The art is on display in the South32 building on St Georges Terrace in the CBD until July 22.