Art In Place/Art in Incarceration

Art Class
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ART IN PLACE

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ART IN INCARCERATION
Indigenous artists from the Alexander Maconochie Centre

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Kangaroos
Kangaroos

ARTISTS STORY: I have been in custody for some time now and I am a person only just learning about my cultural background as it was very much kept from me growing up and I have only been painting for a few months and when I look at a canvas, I say to myself “that might look nice” and I paint it. PAINTING helps me heaps as I realise now that I am actually good at something and with a bit of help, I could do painting on the outside. When I am doing art in jail my mind is elsewhere

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Mating Dance
Mating Dance

ARTISTS STORY: this painting shows two turtles engaging in a mating dance in order to produce offspring. Painting keeps me connected with culture and family. This is important when you are in jail as there is a lot of spare time to do head miles and keeping focussed on family keeps me safe mentally.

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Native Animals Gathering
Native Animals Gathering

ARTISTS STORY: This painting tells a story of me reconciling with one of my aboriginal brother’s. he is a saltwater man, and I am a muddy water man. We had our issues in the past, but we are tight bonded by blood. Doing art in jail has given me the biggest and brightest step towards looking at the positive side of life and it has given me brightest step towards a clearer mind and better future.

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Outback Journey
Outback Journey

ARTISTS STORY: This painting tells a story of me reconciling with one of my aboriginal brother’s. he is a saltwater man, and I am a muddy water man. We had our issues in the past, but we are tight bonded by blood. Doing art in jail has given me the biggest and brightest step towards looking at the positive side of life and it has given me brightest step towards a clearer mind and better future.

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Womens Gathering
Womens Gathering

ARTISTS STORY: this artwork shows women gathering for ceremony. Doing art helps me to clear my mind. It gives me something positive to focus on.

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Goanna Breeding
Goanna Breeding

ARTISTS STORY: This painting is about the natural life cycle of the goanna as it arises from the dust and then returns to it. Painting in jail makes the time go quick here and uses my time in a meaningful way and makes me feel good about myself. If I can sell my artwork the money helps me buy toiletries, more art supplies and helps build my nest egg to help me get by on release.

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Creation
Creation
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Spirits Dreaming
Spirits Dreaming

ARTISTS STORY: This artwork is about the connection that aboriginal people have to culture and land. While we are busy doing other things, our spirits dream of going back to country. I find art relaxing and a good way to stay connected to culture while away from community. Art is good for my peace of mind.

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Life Cycle
Life Cycle

ARTISTS STORY: This painting is about a tribe surrounded by waterholes as in the cycle of life. Painting in jail makes the time go quick here and uses my time in a meaningful way and makes me feel good about myself. If I can sell my artwork the money helps me buy toiletries, more art supplies and helps build my nest egg to help me get by on release.

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Rabbitohs
Rabbitohs

ARTISTS STORY: for me the Rabbitoh’s represent the aboriginal men who played for souths over the years. The flag with the rabbits represents the backbone of souths with their fans included. Painting while incarcerated gives me the opportunity to improve as an artist and a person and to be guided with the help of culture back into the community in a better frame of mind than what I came in with. Painting also provides me the opportunity to connect with my culture while I am in jail and away from

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In terms of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art program, since the inception of the AMC in  2008 cultural art creation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees has been an important activity for this cohort as it connects them to their culture and by their own admission provides the brief moment of respite they need from the being incarcerated in order to cope. Before the recent COVID-19 lockdown a weekly cultural art program was running in the AMC for men and women facilitated by local artist Aunty Veronica Jordan. As part of this program artists were not only encouraged to hone their existing skills but are also invited to learn more about the totems, symbols and patterns they were putting to canvas so they could better understand the cultural significance of what they were painting.

 

On completion of any artwork detainees have the option of keeping their work in storage until their release, gifting their artwork out of the facility to nominated family or friends or putting their work up for public sale through the popular electronic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Detainee Art Catalogue, which is regularly sent out to ACT Government Agencies, or of which such works are placed on public display through approved exhibitions. The art catalogue will soon be available for broader public access on the Justice and Community Safety website.

 

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Detainee Art Catalogue was an initiative commenced in 2017 and in that time has seen over 290 artworks submitted for public sale of which around 250 have been sold amounting to approximately $100, 000 being spread throughout participating detainees holding accounts providing them scope to have a small nest egg on release to assist with their successful reintegration into society upon release. A number of detainees have also proceeded to make a living in the community from their artistic ability by continuing to create and sell art publicly.

To purchase any of the Indigenous artist art contact david.witham@act.gov.au