Approximately 60 people attended the opening of Prison Fellowship’s National Art from Inside Exhibition in mid-July, and were immersed in a world of creativity. From simple drawings on a piece of brown paper or paper towelling to oil masterpieces and superb clay constructions, the gallery was rich with works of art for our study and appreciation.
In his welcoming remarks, Rick Hunt, Victorian State Manager, quoted Rory Noland from his work “The Heart of the Artist” –
“A pastor sat with me on the bus back to the hotel at this conference in Fort Lauderdale. And he said something revealing. ‘I just leave those artsy types alone. They’re kinda off in their own little world anyway.’ God doesn’t look at us as those strange artsy types. After all, he made us. He loves us and he understands us. I’ll admit that artists are a little different, but it’s a good kind of different. Artists look at thing differently than non-artists do. They notice detail and appreciate nuance and beauty. They may see things differently because they feel deeply.”
With the theme of ‘Rejected – Selected’, there was plenty of scope for prisoner-artists to express deeply rooted feelings with a genuine passion – and they did! One could feel the raw emotion in many of the works, and a sense of exploration and discovery in others. Equally, some clearly expressed the joy of being selected – of being loved and chosen by God. Many artists wrote a short comment to be placed alongside their work.
The winner of the Victorian Drawing section wrote:
“Here in prison God has chosen to reveal to me things about myself. He has steadied my hand, as well as my core, and I have learnt to look and look again. When I draw I am deep in thought, sometimes contemplation. I suppose I consider this, then, a portal through which I speak to a God I know has not rejected me. I know there is more in store.”
Prison Fellowship is very fortunate to have the commitment and service of two artists who curated the exhibition, spending many hours framing, hanging, and positioning the works submitted.
David Jack is renowned in the world of mosaic and mural art and is often consulted by governments. Blair Angelo is a practising artist who spends time in prisons teaching and encouraging potters and clay workers. Without their input the exhibition would not have been the success it was.
Prizes were awarded in the areas of painting, drawing, and applied art.