ART has always been about eliciting a response and that brief will no doubt be ticked when punishment, rehabilitation and society’s attitudes toward incarceration are explored in a thought-provoking exhibition at Heathcote Gallery, opening May 4.
Untitled is a collaboration between Rockingham artist Andy Quilty and a prisoner currently serving time in a WA jail.
Quilty said that under strict guidelines for the exhibition to go ahead the man’s identity and the prison where he is serving his sentence had to be withheld.
Featuring a mix of drawings, paintings and installations, the exhibition examines the impact of prison life “on the physical and psychological wellbeing of individuals”.
In a statement the unnamed artist, a Masters candidate, said his work was an attempt to visually portray – from a first person perspective – the impact of being confined to an artificial environment.
He said the regulated movements of prisoners and repetitive and mundane routine was more harmful than good.
“As our prisons expand to reflect a warehouse function rather than a societal service, this exhibition is timely to reflect on the deleterious effects caused by isolating prisoners in harsh and hostile artificial environments for long periods of time,” he said.
“Highlighting how the prison environment impacts on the individual from an insider’s perspective it may also be possible to develop a broader awareness and open dialogue to alternative ways to lessen the damage caused to prisoners by the environments they are housed in.
“Ultimately it is advantageous to have prisoners released back to society less damaged than when they came in.”
Quilty said he hoped the exhibition would trigger discussion about the way prisoners are handled.
“The way I see prison is that (a prisoner’s) loss of freedom is their punishment,” he said.
“It should then be about rehabilitation.”
He admitted it was a complex issue and that not everyone would be as open as he was.
“It’s not all black and white but no one is ever lost completely,” he said.
“A mark of society is how we treat the most difficult among us.”
– Untitled Exhibition –
Where: Heathcote Museum & Gallery, 58 Dungraig Road, Applecross
When: May 4 to June 10. Opening hours are Tuesday to Friday 10am to 3pm; Saturday and Sunday 12pm to 4pm
Opening night: To RSVP to the opening, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 9364 5666
Information: Visit www.melvillecity.com.au/heathcote