Monday, 21 November 2011

'Art by Offenders' review

Where is it? Royal Festival Hall, Waterloo
Verdict: Give it a miss

What is it? A rarity in the art world, an exhibit whose name sums up what's on display. The website claims that the visual arts are not just by prisoners but by secure detainees as well – whatever that means. I assume that means people who have been locked up for the good of the public though they may not have committed a crime – but that's just me speculating. It's a collection of writing, poetry and sculptures; but the vast majority of exhibits are drawings and paintings.

Most of the pieces are available to buy, with the proceeds going to a charity - no it doesn't go to the prisoners, so you can make a purchase guilt-free, and with a sense of having contributed to a good cause.

Verdict: As you'd expect from people that are locked up, a lot of the art has recurring themes of depression, isolation, abandonment and religion. My favourite piece being this haunting self-portrait:

It's clear that the artists on display have talent and, considering they are detained, they must have plenty of emotion to draw on. However, I just didn't get the impression that this raw emotion came across in the art itself. Now it may seem like I'm kicking people when they're down – it's not enough for them to be locked up but their sole artistic outlet must be criticised as well! However, on the plus side, we know that we don't have too many talented artists locked up.

I saw this exhibit last year, in the same location, and the pieces on display then were much more visually arresting. Who knows next year may be even better than the previous year. I, for one will still check it out, as there are many pieces on display every year so the odds are in your favour of finding a few pieces you like.

My verdict of 'give it a miss' is based on a false assumption as I managed to catch this on the last day and it's now closed. But like I've said, it will be back next year if you're keen to see it.

Dates: 22 September - 20 November 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment