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Made Corrections Exhibition at Garden Court Chambers, Holborn
October 16, 2014
“Can you imagine a life without art?” –Dean Stalham
This is the question that the dynamic artist and writer Dean Stalham posed, trying to convince the authorities to let him into the Kaunas Youth Correctional and Interrogation Facility in Lithuania. The Made Corrections team wanted to bring art to a place where the only art supplies were 2 pots of crayons and 98% of inhabitants couldn’t name a single artist. Working in collaboration with world renowned artist (and previous TED prize winner) JR and his global art movement Inside Out, the prisoners were invited to create art working with local street artists to express themselves or as Olly Walker, another of the Made Corrections team so eloquently put it, they “graffed up” the prison. This absorbing collection of photographs and the accompanying short film (which can be seen here) are a testament to the all too short time that the Made Corrections team spent with these youths at the facility, creating art and giving the inmates their voices back.
The collection includes moving photographic portraits of the youths who took part, taken by a local Lithuanian photographer Donatas Stankevecius. We see them menacingly staring back at us with their shields up, looking tough and are then invited to compare these same faces as they smile at us in an open way, reminded that they are just ultimately young boys who have lived difficult lives. The images that we see were handpicked by these young artists and as David Ellis, one of the Made Corrections team, noted they represent one of the first decisions that they have made about how they looked and wanted to be presented since being imprisoned.
There are some wonderfully candid, black and white shots of the young artists behind prison walls, giving us an impression of the world that they live in outside of this great project, which really give a gritty, no frills insight into life inside the facility.
Along with the photographs, there are other pieces on display. The first is a remarkable self-portrait by Dean Stalham entitled The End Of It, which is a powerful exploration of the dilemma facing convicts trying to put their pasts behind them once they have served their sentence. There is also a signed print of Sacrilege by the Turner Prize winner, Jeremy Deller.
Made Corrections have a wonderful slogan; ‘Art As Opportunity’. They hope to continue their work and extend opportunities, with projects being planned in the Czech Republic and Romania as well as a return to their boys in Lithuania.
Made Corrections is on at Garden Court Chambers until 20th of October. For more information go to madecorrections.com/made-corrections-exhibition-launch-at-garden-court-chambers