LONDON.- The National Gallery
is launching a new outreach programme encouraging young men detained in Feltham Young Offenders Institution to engage with the creative arts.
The programme, named 'Inside Art', will be undertaken by groups of 1821 year-old men at the institution and will include sessions on sculpture, drawing, painting and gilding.
The workshops will take place in Felthams new on-site Art Academy, and it is hoped that the participating young men will benefit from their art practice.
The National Gallery is the first organisation to develop an arts programme at the Art Academy, a centre aiming to involve Felthams young adults in a wide range of creative arts activities. Participants will be asked to engage imaginatively with the visual arts and creative processes.
It is hoped that this will help enable the young men leaving custody to reintegrate back in to society by developing their confidence and self-esteem, improving their communication skills and general well-being, and encouraging a greater understanding of self and others.
The National Gallery intends to report on their findings in relation to these aims on an annual basis over the three-year period of the scheme. It is hoped that other projects including those based around theatre, dance and music could follow the National Gallerys pilot project in the Art Academy.
National Gallery Head of Education, Colin Wiggins, said: The Gallery is always looking to develop and extend its programmes as we believe that everyone has the capacity to understand, enjoy and be stimulated by the great paintings in its collection and we wish to help people who are not regular visitors to discover this for themselves. We hope that these exercises of the imagination can assist the young men at Feltham in a process of re-evaluating the consequences of their actions.
Four National Gallery projects will take place at Feltham this year, each led by a different National Gallery artist. Artists will use high quality large-scale prints of selected paintings from the collection as a stimulus for discussion and inspiration for the young mens own artwork. Ten men from Feltham are expected to take part in each project.
'Inside Art' will culminate with an exhibition of the young mens work at the National Gallery in Spring 2010. The work will be shown prior to this in the Art Academy.
The decision to open the Art Academy previously a disused outbuilding at Feltham is part of the Prison Services approach to reducing re-offending.
The Academy will be used to develop and improve the link between custody and the community, helping young people re-integrate into society by gaining qualifications and developing personal and social skills.
The various programmes being developed will offer those involved the opportunity to tackle the major obstacles that preclude offenders from living a life free of crime. This will occur in conjunction with existing programmes already available in the establishment such as anger management, which provides young people in custody with skills to better manage their emotions.