This Independence day, hues of patriotism grace the walls of the district prison of Gurgaon. A team of eight inmates have given the entrance and interiors an artistic makeover by painting murals. From the National Animal, Tiger, to the National Flower, Lotus, the prison walls have been painted in a National theme.
The team that has been working on this project, Art Connect, for the past 4 months is receiving training from contemporary visual artist Natasha Chanda Bhambri. She travels all the way from Noida to Gurgaon everyday to train these eight inmates.
“Among 48 inmates, I selected 12 and finally took eight on board after a general training and test. They were taught mixing of colours, making graphics, painting, maati and other art work. Some of them are really good and I can vouch that they will continue to do great in the future also. The initiative is known as Art Connect. It will help inmates to develop skills that will make it easier for them to lead a quality life after their release,” says Bhambri.
The artist chose the national theme to develop a sense of patriotism among inmates. “There are two panels on the wall and I wanted to maintain a balance between the two. On the one side we have depicted strength and ability while the other represents command of law and peace of nation. There is a gap between the two panels on which we painted a mural of Mahatma Gandhi,” says Bhambri.
Whether it was the banyan tree or the peacock, the tiger or the Emblem, all the work was done keeping the national theme in mind. “We peeled off a tree bark, dried it and pasted it in the artwork of Mahatma Gandhi to give shades to it and the National Emblem is made of maati work (clay),” says Bhambri.
The inmates have also installed the artworks made by recycling waste material such as cables, wires and exhaust fan, maati and wood work inside the prison.
Manish, a 29-year-old convict who has been in the jail for the past ten years says, “This artwork is a life-changing experience. People would not look at me favourably earlier but this initiative by Haryana Prison Department, India Vision Foundation and Art Connect has changed my identity.”
Ravi, who has been in the prison for almost seven years, says, “Jab yaha se niklunga to ek hunar lekar jayunga. Khud ko badal kar ab ek accha insaan banunga ( When I will leave the prison, I will have a skill with me. I will change myself and become a good human being).”
The artwork, paintings and installations by prisoners is not just a part of rehabilitation but the authority believes that it also helps them to keep the environment positive.
“The district prison of Gurgaon is the first prison of Haryana which has got a makeover. We want this place to not look like a prison. The artwork is done with a message behind it so that it will help the inmates and us to be a better person,” says DD Tanwar, DSP of District Prison of Gurgaon.
Other artists can also be a part of the noble initiative. They can connect with the project through their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Nishu2016ArtConnect/?fref=ts