‘Captive audience’ for prisoner art on Spike

The artworks are on display inside the cells.
‘Captive audience’ for prisoner art on Spike

Story - an exhibition by Spike Island and the Cork Prison Education Unit

AN exhibition at Spike Island of art by prisoners is a continuation of the collaboration with Cork Prison and is a much-anticipated event on the island’s calendar each year.

The artworks are on display inside the cells.

Story is an intriguing selection of work curated by the education unit in Cork Prison to give agency to the student’s narrative through memory and reflection.

Spike Island has been home to a prison four times over four centuries, and the association with the education unit is significant. At the opening of the show, island manager John Crotty said: “We are delighted to keep this long association going and fully recognise the benefits exhibitions like this bring. The efforts of the Prison Service at prisoner reform are exemplary, and by having events like this that showcase the prisoners work, and bring a sense of pride and belonging, the process of reform is much more likely to succeed.

“It was wonderful to see some of the families of the prisoners present at the opening, to view the work of their parent, which becomes a source of pride and a topic of conversation for them.

“The works also offer our visitors an insight into the minds of the prisoners, and we can all learn something about wider society from the experiences that led them to this place. We look forward to a long-lasting relationship that benefits the artists, our visitors, and society as a whole.”

The education unit has been annually exhibiting on Spike Island since 2012, with some students having been incarcerated on the island in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 2018, a striking stained-glass window was produced in Cork Prison with the support of The Arts Council of Ireland’s Artist in Prison scheme and was presented to Spike Island, where it is on permanent display.

Story, an exhibition telling the stories of prisoners, runs until September.

For more information, see https://www.spikeislandcork.ie/exhibition-story/

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