Postcards from Prison exhibition: A journey of art and hope

An exhibition of artworks by incarcerated artists from prisons across Western Australia brings an inspiring showcase of creativity to the John Curtin Gallery.

Launched on May 13, the Postcards from Prison exhibition sees current and former prisoners share their unique perspectives, emotions and talents through a diverse array of artworks, offering a glimpse into the complexities of life behind bars and the transformative power of art.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne said Curtin was proud to host the exhibition of artwork, some of which are created by participants in its Justice and Equity through Art (JETA) program, which offers incarcerated students the opportunity to participate in higher education.

“Education is a fundamental human right and Curtin is pleased to be able to help incarcerated students further their knowledge, confidence and skills,” Professor Hayne said.

“The Postcards from Prison exhibition further strengthens the collaboration between Curtin, the John Curtin Gallery and the Department of Justice through the successful JETA program.”

Department of Justice Acting Director General Kylie Maj said the JETA program had been running for 19 years in WA custodial facilities and allowed educators to support prisoners and provide the materials they needed to achieve academic success.

“Education and training are critical contributors to rehabilitating and reintegrating the people in our care,” Ms Maj said.

The exhibition launch event was also attended by WA Corrective Services Commissioner Brad Royce, Deputy Commissioner Andrew Beck, Assistant Commissioner Rehabilitation and Reintegration Christine Laird and Department of Justice External Partnerships Coordinator Dr Fiona McGregor.

John Curtin Gallery interim Director, Associate Professor Susanna Castleden said the Postcards from Prison exhibition was testament to the power of art and creativity to facilitate rehabilitation and increase the employment prospects of prisoners.

“In addition to its artistic aims, Postcards from Prison also serves as a poignant reminder of the disproportionate incarceration rates among First Nations peoples, echoing the narratives of resilience and survival embodied by the Stolen Generation and evident in the Carrolup artworks,” Associate Professor Castleden said.

“The exhibition invites audiences to engage with these narratives and reflect on the broader societal issues surrounding incarceration and Indigenous rights.”

Curtin University JETA co-ordinator Dr Rebecca Dagnall said Postcards from Prison not only showcased the artistic prowess of incarcerated individuals but also served as a platform for these artists to financially support themselves and their families post release.

“Through initiatives like the JETA program, incarcerated individuals are provided with a transformative outlet for self-expression and growth, while cultivating critical thinking, imagination and a renewed sense of identity, serving as a beacon of hope amid the challenges of incarceration.”

The Postcards from Prison exhibition closes on July 8 and the Gallery’s public opening hours during exhibitions are Monday to Friday 11am to 5pm and Sunday 12pm to 4pm. For further information visit here.

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