Dozens of paintings by Aboriginal inmates at Wellington Correctional Centre will be sold this month to raise funds for an educational program that assists disadvantaged children.
The artworks are based on Aboriginal themes of country and totem animals, and will be exhibited in Wellington, with all funds going to the Yalmambirra Indigenous Learning Centre.
Member for Dubbo Dugald Saunders congratulated staff and inmates on the program: “I’ve seen firsthand some of the artistic skills that inmates have and there is a lot of hidden talent.”
“By encouraging inmates to build on their talent, it gives them a sense of pride, and with the artworks going on to raise money for valuable services, it is their way of giving back.”
Wellington’s manager of offender services and programs, Jennifer Ryan, said the paintings were created during workshops with Elder and artist Tom Sloane at the prison’s High Intensity Programs Unit.
“Tom teaches the men about their culture and guides them on how to express that cultural journey through art,” Ms Ryan said.
“The men were keen to donate their artworks because they wanted to make a positive contribution and give the community another perspective on what happens behind the walls of a correctional centre.”
Barnardos Australia program manager Shiree Talbot said they were excited by the project.
“This fundraising exhibition is really a win-win for everyone. The inmates gain cultural awareness through painting and then have the satisfaction of seeing their artworks make a positive difference to the lives of children in Wellington,” Ms Talbot said.
“The Yalmambirra Indigenous Learning Centre runs before and after school care for Aboriginal children aged 5-12, providing a targeted early-education program to help break the cycle of disadvantage, social exclusion and disengagement with the community.”
Wiradjuri inmate-artist, John, painted a kangaroo and goanna, his family and tribal totems.
“A lot of us like doing our artwork because it reconnects us to who we were and where we were from, and it takes us back to that place, rather than being in here,” John said.
“Painting give us peace of mind, so if by donating them we can help one little bit, one little person, that’s a bonus.”