HMP Preston is hosting a month long art exhibition of work produced by prisoners, following art therapy sessions during the pandemic. Held between 1st January and 1st February, the exhibition came about following art classes run by Spectrum.
Paintings and drawings by the men at the prison are being displayed within their art room and hospital wing entrance, for other prisoners, staff, and invited guests to enjoy.
The sessions, which began at the start of 2021, focus on how art helps with rehabilitation and improving mental health. Danny Davidson, Recovery Co-ordinator at HMP Preston, runs the art classes made up of prisoners from the mental health inpatient unit, as well as the main part of the prison.
Using the transformative power of art, Danny encourages the men to attend the art room where they can chat as well as express themselves artistically with pencils, paints, and watercolours.
Danny said, “It’s fantastic to be part of a team that encourages people in a prison environment to tap into their creative energy to help better themselves. I’m a big believer in the cathartic process of creating art in any form. Witnessing people enjoying the therapeutic space that has been provided at HMP Preston, which enables them to unwind, better manage stress and anxiety, and grow in their belief and confidence in themselves as creatives, is a privilege”.
Art therapy as a creative outlet for prisoners has grown in recent years, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. One prisoner from Danny’s class said, “I enjoy painting abstract art; the colours I choose represent emotions I find difficult to express. Using different techniques to splash paint onto the canvas helps release something, and I always feel better when I have finished a painting.”
Elizabeth Winkley-Riding, Clinical Manager at HMP Preston, said, “I am proud to work alongside Danny, who has worked with the men to create art that has helped them therapeutically in their recovery. We have been lucky to develop this environment with the support of myself as Team Manager and the staff team on the mental health inpatient unit, where the art therapy room is based. The staff have been tenacious and committed in getting the room and the art therapy sessions embedded into our healthcare regime, embracing psychological and emotional mental health and wellbeing – a truly holistic approach.”