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Art behind bars – Enrichment Talk

Artist, writer, consultant and motivational speaker, Angela Findlay visited Rendcomb College to deliver an enrichment talk to Sixth Form students last week.

The session focussed on the use of Art in Prisons and how it can be used in the rehabilitation process.

Angela has taken up many roles in her long career including lecturer, teacher, artist and writer, all with a common link of instigating behavioural and emotional change through the medium of art.

The key messages from the enrichment talk encouraged students to think about the wider community and the reasons behind key economic and social factors affecting the world today.

One student explained: “It was hard to see how art could help people in such a way but she demonstrated it in a way that made complete sense and really made me think.”

Starting her vocational career as an artist in prisons in the 1980s, Angela gave the students a unique insight into prison life, the cycle of crime and re-offending. Angela’s experiences took the students on a journey into the world of prison life and how the arts, in particular painting, can be used to impact re-offending and change prisoners’ attitudes towards others and themselves.

Angela’s aim is to educate society in the key reasons leading to criminal behaviour and how we can be more proactive than reactive when dealing with these issues.

“Over 40% of prisoners have been expelled or excluded from school while over 45% do not have a single qualification. 52% are dyslexic and 65% have the reading age of less than an 8 year-old” Angela explained to a stunned audience.

These facts raised many questions from the students as to why this might be and how they can be helped.

The use of art is a method supported by Angela and she explained how this can be used to reduce re-offending: “In recent research, it was found that arts projects can halve the expected rate of re-offending.”