Thursday, 25 October 2012

195. HOPE by ANON

HOPE  HMP, Lindholme, Shearman Bowen Award for Mixed Media c
 Curated by Sarah Lucas

The Spirit Level,
 Royal Festival Hall
until November 25

The 50th anniversary of the Koestler Trust is celebrated by an exhibition  of art by prisoners, offenders on community sentences, secure psychiatric patients and immigration detainees. From the 8,000 entries Sarah Lucas chose 180 exhibits which include music, film, drawings, craft and sculture.

The horizontal lines in Hope draw the eye inescapably to the grid at the back which is shut firmly in our faces. No escape there. No glimpse of life outside through a cell window. The textured brownish black paint (?) applied thickly - scrawled even - on the walls is  disturbing, a reminder of prisoner protest. But we can see something like a  porthole. Alas, this image is too small to do justice to the  delicate line drawing of a tree in full leaf enclosed in the small, pale circle. Perhaps the artist is reminding us that hope can come as a gift, unbidden,  to anyone anywhere

Just Another Day, HMP Lindholme, Shearman Bowen Gold Award for Pastels
Just another Day - a bunch of friends, a hand or two of cards? After all it's a soft and reassuring picture, drawn using a limited number of gentle, pale colours. And the medium is pastels,  as light as air, crumbly, unresisting, deeply sensitive to touch, even the pressure of a finger.

Which contrasts with the what's happening before our eyes. Behind the bespectacled  man at the table is an open doorway where two men are violently entangled. The trio in the top left hand corner could be having a group hug - or sorting out a deal? It's best not to ask what the man in the right corner is up to. And the card players? A cosy hand of rummy or whist? We can look over the right shoulder of the man in front of us but the symbol on his card is not red hearts or black clubs or red diamonds or black spades. It looks like a heart-shaped white arum lily. I've never found one like that in any card game I've played.

All Patched Up, The Dene Hospital, Partnerships in Care, Women in secure hospitals Platinum Award for textile |Art.Add caption
All Patched Up  is made from scraps of cloth, threads and decorations. Sometimes the clothing it came from is identifiable: a patch from a pair of jeans and from a check shirt, each with the pocket still intact. Some squares (the hearts?) suggest a narrative, others are abstract patterns. Each one is unique. But the notice tells us this is work by a group of women in a secure prison. The Oxford English Dictionary says  'Patching up' is  making a quick  temporary repair until some better way is found. It also mens settling an argument.
(c) koestler trust

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