Confined 9 exhibition, St Kilda Town Hall, 2018

In prison

Every time that I pick the brush up and start painting, I’m not here anymore, I’m not in the jail.

I’m actually in there, down the river and fishing and hunting and doing all those good things. It was an escape.

Angus Abdullah (Noongar/Yamatji), became a painter through the Program 

Our Indigenous Arts Officer In Prisons provides targeted cultural and art resources to artists together with advice and encouragement as they develop their art practice.

170 Indigenous offenders participated in the In Prison program in 2016.

All In Prison participants can submit artwork to be included in The Torch’s annual Confined exhibition. They may also offer their artworks for sale via The Torch under the Victorian Government’s Aboriginal Arts Policy guidelines.

The Victorian Department of Justice through Corrections Victoria provides funding for the In Prison program.

When I began working at The Torch in 2011, Uncle Sandy Atkinson said to me, ‘For 40 years we’ve been trying to find a way for our men and women in prison to be able to sell their artworks, it’s your turn now, young fella.’ I’m very happy to say that, on the back of the strong foundation built over decades, by the Victorian Indigenous community and with bipartisan political support, the work of Uncle Sandy and many others has finally come to fruition.

Kent Morris, Barkindji, The Torch CEO

In 2016 the Victorian government developed the Aboriginal Arts Policy that allows Indigenous men and women participating in the Torch program to sell their artworks while still in custody. This policy was developed in response to research released by the Victorian Ombudsman in 2015. This research showed cultural learning, instilled through artistic practices, would be a successful strategy in addressing climbing recidivism rates for the Indigenous Arts in Prisons and Community program.

Kent Morris, Barkindji, The Torch CEO talks to Michelle Lovegrove, SBS about the Aboriginal Arts Policy, 26 February 2016 [9:20 mins]

It’s a good feeling to have your work exhibited, and that people outside can see it. And it’s good to see others people’s work from the Confined exhibitions in the books, and to see your name with it.

Participant 1

Confined 9 exhibition launch, St Kilda Town Hall, 2018