The prison can be a fertile ground for creativity. An upcoming exhibition will feature artworks by five inmates from the Bhondsi jail in Gurgaon. The paintings will be exhibited from November 10 to17 at the art gallery of Metropolitan Hotel on Bangla Sahib Road, Delhi.
The inmates have been accused of murder, rape and kidnapping and are serving at least five years to life imprisonment. The idea behind the initiative is to provide freedom to prisoners to explore and express themselves through art.
The convicts have created 74 paintings around the theme of nature. The artworks, priced between R3,500 and R10,000, will be auctioned and the proceeds will go to both the prisoners, and the prisoners’ welfare fund.
Salem (name changed), one of the artists, who has been serving in the jail for the last five years for murder and kidnapping, said, “I never got a chance to explore my talent. In fact, I never knew I could paint. I started with learning the craft and then the Indian Vision Foundation helped me identify my talent.”
Another inmate, 34-year old Manu (name changed), learned to paint in the prison. He was jailed at the age of 26, but found another life by painting on the walls.
Raghav (name changed) has been in the Haryana prison for the last three years. He worked as an electrician before he convicted of rape.
“I always pursued painting as a hobby but never thought it as a mainstream thing. Today, I am able to train others. Now, I wish is to open an art gallery when I get released. I am really happy that our works are being exhibited,” said Raghav.
Even the jail authorities said that art has changed the outlook of the prisoners, some of whom have been convicted of gruesome crimes. There has been a sudden change in their behaviour, the authorities noted.
“This is a new initiative for our prison administration. It is a nice and fresh experience for both our officers and prisoners. All this would not have been possible without the warm and never ending support of director general, Yashpal Singh,” said Harinder Singh, jail superintendent.
Monica Dhawan, director, Indian Vision Foundation, said, “In order to promote and identify talent among the inmates we employed our 3Cs approach — corrective, collective and community. The convicts did not even know that they could paint. We helped them to identify their skill and trained them.”
The painters had earlier painted the boundary wall of the Bhondsi jail with national symbols. They spent three months formulising the concept to turn the jail walls into a piece of work.