As a believer in supporting our community, we at SOTA are extremely proud to introduce our next collaborative exhibition. This June, we will be working alongside Prodigal Arts - an Arts charity working within prisons to aid their positive rehabilitation. Our Arts curator HJ was lucky enough to catch up with the founder of the charity, Ralph, and asked a few questions regarding their work...
Hi, Ralph! Thanks so much for your time chatting with us today, could you tell us a little about yourself and your role?
I’m a professional artist and educator motivated by seeing transformation in marginalised people’s lives achieved through realising and releasing creativity. As the founder of Prodigal Arts I’ve seen the whole arc of our initial growth from being a project to becoming a charity.
My role is a varied and interesting one. As director of Prodigal Arts I’m chief vision carrier and overseer of our work. My days range from desk work and meetings to true third-sector delivery: actually working at the coal face providing creative mentoring in Prison.
Could you tell us a bit about Prodigal Arts and what it does?
Prodigal Arts exists to bring transformation through art. We work in prison with prisoners offering ongoing individualised mentoring to talented artists. Our goal is creative rehabilitation and the vehicle is creating art of a professional standard that can be sold. An initial portfolio of work is produced by our artists for assessment as the criteria for ongoing membership. Member artists get a web profile and the work they create in their own voluntary time is exhibited for sale in venues such as yours. From the sale of artwork 40% goes to the artist earmarked for their resettlement post-release (-2.5% to Victim Support) and 60% enables our work to continue (we also give 2.5% to Victim Support.) We aspire to continue working with our artists post release and from subsequent sales we flip our sales percentage such that released artists receive 60% of the profit, again making a 2.5% donation to Victim Support.
Why do you think it’s important for these charities like yourself to exist, and why our community should get on board?
It is really important that charities such as ourselves exist, for example without our work there would be no art provision at HMP Leyhill. As an independent charity we get to think outside the box when approaching our national problem of re-offending and offer a more tailored approach to rehabilitation focusing on unlocking the potential of the individual. (Nearly half of adults - 48% are reconvicted within one year of release!In 2010, reoffending by all recent ex-prisoners was estimated to cost the economy between £9.5 and £13 billion annually, the figure today is likely to be even higher!)
Our community should get on board because this work enables prisoners to make a positive contribution to society. By acknowledging a prisoner’s creative talent and potential you are actively engaging in rebuilding a life with a sense of purpose, meaning and hope thereby making our society a safer and better place for everyone to live in.
Why is Art seen as a therapeutic outlet, or important to us in general?
Art is very important as it is a mode of expression that is full of possibility and is good at accommodating difference. Art can change both how we see the world and our place in it. Where words have often run out or are too broken art is a powerful language that lets people express themselves positively and find their voice.
What can we expect from the artwork created and curated by Prodigal Arts?
A range of high quality drawings and paintings representing scenes and ideas that make you think. You will be surprised by the quality and standard. Giclée Prints will also be available.
If you would give one life lesson you’ve learnt since working in your line of work, what would it be?
Never judge a book by its cover! The inside of people and their potential is often so different to the sometimes hardened exterior and image they [have to] project. Everyone is worth a second chance.
Thanks so much for your time! For more information on the incredible work Prodigal Arts do; click here.
Our collaborative exhibition with Prodigal Arts is open between the following dates below. Click here for more info.
4th June - 1st July