Creativity can flourish even in prison

Published : 12:33 am  November 1, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 


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“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others” 

Nelson Mandela

A prison is a place where criminals and wrongdoers are detained. Being imprisoned is the worst experience which one ever enjoys in ones lifespan. It sounds odd when it is said that prison is also a place where inmates can master their talents. We have recorded instances where the above mentioned facts has come to light.   

‘Sira Nowu Sithuwam’ an exhibition of arts organized by the Department of Prisons becomes an incentive for inmates to make the worst place to be the best place to brush up their talent of art. This exhibition is held annually in line with the Prisoners’ Welfare Day which falls on September 12. Holding an event like this relieves the minds of the prisoners whose minds are in fact engulfed with anxiety and despair. The cell can limit their movements but can’t limit ideas from moving.  

For the year 2018, the exhibition was held on September 16 at the J.D.A. Perera Gallery of the University of the Visual & Performing Arts under the patronage of Commissioner General of Sri Lanka Prisons, Nishan Danasinghe.   

The exhibition which was held under two categories such as Canvas Pictures and Paper Pictures, was adorned with nearly 500 pictures drawn by the hands of the inmates from across the country.  

The noteworthy fact is that Prisons Department had also organized an award ceremony on the following day in order to admire the work done by the inmates. The first, the second and the third place received cash cheques worth Rs, 100,000, Rs. 7,500 and Rs.6,000 respectively.   

Accordingly, the first and the second places under the Canvas Pictures category were both won by an inmate of the Anuradhapura Prison while the third place went to an inmate of the Dumbara prison.  

The first place under the Paper Pictures category was won by an inmate of the Welikada Prison while both the second and third places were won by two inmates of the Kuruwita Prison.   

The award ceremony was graced with the participation of Secretary to the Ministry of Justice & Prison Reforms W.M.M.R. Adikari, Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs Anusha Gokula Fernando and several artistes.  

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Commissioner of Prisons (Rehabilitation) Chandana Ekanayake said the purpose of organizing an event like this was to boost the talents of the inmates.  

“The pictures drawn by them contained the feelings that they cannot pronounce by words. It is true that the inmates are in a tremendous pressure because they are away from their loved ones.  

“I presume the best format to express one’s idea is art. That’s exactly we witnessed when we observed their artwork carefully. We saw as to how the drawings signified the feelings like loneliness, injustice, anxiety and despair etc,” Ekanayake shared.  

“The inmate who had won the first place had drawn his picture in order to show the difficulties that his family is undergoing at the absence of his presence.  He said they would provide the opportunity for the general public in future to have access to buy those artwork.  

“The Department has organized to arrange workshops on professional drawings so that the inmates would get the privilege to develop their skills and talent of art,” Ekanayake added.   

In conclusion, it should be noted that inmates should be given the opportunities of entertainment and recreation so that they would spend their life in prison in a more worthwhile manner. Do not forget that at the end of the day, they all are human beings. They may be physically confined to a cell but their ideas are beyond the cell.