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Exhibiting Prisoner Artwork as a means for Social Reform


Carlotta Goulden, S-T-R-E-T-C-H -research mentor for prison art programs and education

HMP Askham Grange Staff/ Integrated Research Application System - assisting in interviewing process at HMP Askham Grange

The Koestler Trust Staff -assistance in exhibition research Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum Staff -assistance in focus

group and facilities
Kathryn M. McKnight -Research Methodology assistance/ editor



  1. Introduction
    A. Outsider Art Market Growth B. Aims and Objectives
    C. Dissertation Guide

  2. Literature Review A. Art As Therapy

    B. Art Education Theory

i. Community Building, Art Intervention and Crime Prevention

C. Prisoner Artwork Exhibited in the United Kingdom

  1. Exhibition and Gallery Curricula and Practice

  2. Selling Prisoner Art Work

  3. Curriculum Design

D. Research and Art Education For Prisoners in the United States i. Evaluation Process

III. Research Methodology
A. Outline of Research Paradigm B. S-T-R-E-T-C-H

  1. Interview with Founder/Director Goulden

  2. Interview with inmate at Askham Grange

C. The Koestler Trust

  1. Interview with Arts Director

  2. Interview with Arts Assistant


D. Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum

  1. Empirical Findings and Analysis

    A. Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum Case Study 1. FocusGroupA

    2. FocusGroupB
    3. FocusGroupC(Part1) 4. FocusGroupC(Part2)

    B. Why Display Prison Art
    C. Marketing Strategies for HKCSM D. Ownership

  2. Conclusions
    A. Outsider Art and Prison Life in Hong Kong B. Exhibiting Vulnerable Art
    C. Prison Art Exhibition and Social Reform

  3. References

  4. Appendices



This research collects primary data from qualitative interviews with different members of organizations exhibiting prisoner artwork. Four focus groups will fulfill a visitor or audience perspective in the evaluation of exhibition strategies and marketing. Art education and art therapy theory will provide the framework in the production and support of incarcerated artists and art programs in prisons. Three organizations will be closely examined in order to learn more about successful strategies and obstacles: S-T-R-E-T-C-H, The Koestler Trust, and the Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum.

S-T-R-E-T-C-H is an arts charity that focuses on the educating and engaging hard to reach groups, specifically inmates, in art. The Koestler Trust is similar in that they provide a forum for incarcerated artist. The Koestler Trust however is focused on selling and exhibiting prisoner work. The Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum (HKCSM) exhibits prisoner artwork and the history of prison life in Southeast Asia and is where the focus groups were conducted.

Elements and practices from all three groups seem to advance this field of art. The growing market for prison art as “Outsider Art” is the catalyst for all three organizations and their common goal for prisoner education and social inclusion.


Chapter 1- Introduction

Drawings and paintings that are created behind bars stand apart from the art world. Yet the artists with little or no training seem to make art that fascinates those who visit contemporary galleries and museums. There are few common denominators –landscape, portrait, surreal, realist, just that the prisoner artist is most likely completely untrained. Prison art then falls under the umbrella of Outsider Art in the art market.

To better understand the exhibition and production of prisoner artwork it is crucial to examine the outsider art market and exhibition circuit. In the past decade, scholars and art collectors, galleries and museums are making ‘outsider art’ a priority as it is selling for thousands of dollars (Fine 2004).

The term “Outsider Art” was developed by Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an equivalent to “art brut” a French term for “raw art” coined by modernist painter Jean Dubuffet in 1949. The appeal from Dubuffet’s perception is that the artist is free from training. The “brut artist” is untouched by culture and norms that construct the art made inside contemporary galleries and art critiques (Wojcik, 2008).

Sanford Smith and Associates is a prestigious art and antiques show Management Company company in Manhattan, New York. They began showcasing “deviant art” in 1992 at an event called, “The Outsider Art Fair.” This event celebrates and sells work created by untrained artists. As the show has


progressed over 19 years, the layout of the exhibition has gone from a homogenous folk art swap meet to being divided into very distinct “arenas.” This has resulted in more outsider artists gaining gallery representation. These areas also seem to correspond to different “types” of outsider artists. A group called 20th Century Acid collected and exhibited work by one Korean artist and four Japanese artists all with Down syndrome. The paintings and watercolors shown in this booth all had characteristically Asian compositions, which were vertical scroll-like, with minimalist images of animals or organic shapes. However they all share a certain childlike quality. The cultural distinction along with the honest, sweet, unaware quality made the small works worth on average 400-500 USD (Glueck, 2007)(Togon, 2006).

Other groups represented at Outsider Art Fair included: the homeless, folk artist, and patients with or those with psychiatric disorders. Some artists are becoming distinct brands in themselves. Henry Joseph Darger’s work began to catch art collector’s interest in the 1990s. He is arguably the breakout Outsider Artist of that decade. He was an American writer and artist, born 1892 and died in 1973 at age 81 in Chicago, Illinois. Darger was orphaned as a boy. He was extremely reclusive, thought to possibly have been partially deaf, uneducated and autistic. Darger was place in an asylum for “feeble minded children.” As an adult he worked as a janitor at a primary school. His books, “In the Realms of the Unreal” and “The History of My Life Crazy House: Further Adventures in Chicago” fueled several hundred drawings and paintings. His landlord found his artistic endeavors after Darger’s death (Segedin, 2011)(Yu, 2004).


He used many collages. He had learned to draw by tracing comics and children’s books. The images show groups of children mostly female with male genitalia in war scenes with grown men. Darger included himself in the stories and in the imagery as a savior to the girls, he called, “The Vivian Girls.” The paintings of the young children with sexual parts brought a question to his work at the primary school in Chicago. There were reports of abuse. This also prompted psychologists and art analysts to investigate Darger’s mental illnesses through his paintings. His work aided in the rise of “Outsider Art” in popular culture (Yu, 2004).

Darger has 126,000 Google ‘hits’ and 107,000 on Yahoo Search ‘hits’. The market for his paintings continues to increase, some of them having been sold for up to 150 thousand dollars. Forbes magazine claims, Darger’s paintings and drawings have brought in at least 2 million dollars (Smith, 2011; Segedin, 2011). The art critic, Arthur Danto, in a review of ‘Outsider Art’ in ‘The Nation’ in 1997, wrote that ‘the reclusive Henry Darger was a genius of stammering achievement”. Yet some people have called Henry Darger’s work ‘junk’ and suggest that the only reason Darger had achieved his celebrity was because his work was popularized as the lurid product of an eccentric recluse (Segedin, 2011).

The growing fascination with the darker themes and figures is a modern phenomenon in contemporary art. An art that has been called, “Artistry of the mentally ill, Art Brut, Zustandgebundene Art, Psychopathological Art, Self-taught Art, Raw Art, Vernacular Art, Visionary Art and Art Singulier” (Demirel, 2006).


The popularity of this work can create awareness for the artist.
The artwork of the incarcerated artist can in some ways be called the

fundamental Outsider Art. The least connected members of our society’s creative endeavors are the focus of this research. The expansion of Prison Art popularity and exhibition as Outsider Art has the capability to support global social reform for prisoner education.



Critically examine the role of the artist, management, and audience in the exhibition and marketing of prison art as “Outsider Art.”


Examine prison art under umbrella of “Outsider Art.”

Evaluate art as a psychological and educational tool for prisoner reform and reintegration into society.

Determine the most successful exhibition strategies from global galleries, museums and events of prison art.

Examine the ethical issues and uncertainties in exhibiting and funding incarcerated artists’ work.

Determine the importance of audience outreach and marketing in the production of prisoner artwork and art education programs for the incarcerated.

The research begins with a compilation of relevant literature on education theory and art education for prisoners. The educational theory has been


established and authored in the United States. This educational model has been developed and operated in the United Kingdom with educational programs for hard to reach groups, such as the incarcerated population. Case studies of these programs serve as comparison to the Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum (HKCSM). HKCSM exhibits a holistic view of prison life and the history of prison in Southeast Asia. Primary data collection was accomplished through interview and focus groups at HKCSM. This dissertation research aims to further prisoner art exhibition.


Chapter 2 Literature Review

Art As Therapy

This literature review aims to examine the rising market for “Outsider Art” and understand artwork by incarcerated, untrained artists under the larger umbrella term, “Outsider Art.” As well as to define where and how prisoner artwork is exhibited and sold, this research intends to look at how these factors can encourage art education and production within prisons in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Southeast Asia.

The outsider artist commonly uses art as a means of expression for trauma or mental anguish or disorder. Yet studies do not refrain from focusing on formal qualities of the art. Auction houses like Sotheby and Christie’s tend to give less attention to the “personal motivations and contextual influences on the process of the creation” (Wojcik, 2008). Because the circumstances and common dominator of prison art is that it is created inside prison, absolutely outside of society- it must be analyzed with respect to this fact. There is a romanticized idea of “the artist,” “that he or she is not a person but the mirror of who we are and what we know.” To exhibit the art of the people who have been rejected from the general public is to truly examine how human beings interact and exist. The celebration of the eccentricities of the artist is exaggerated in the outsider artist or prisoner artist (Cubbs and Hartigan, 1994:58; Fine 2004:35-40, 56-61).


Art education and art therapy have been connected by psychology theory for decades. In the case of Outsider Art both formal critiques of art and psychology are employed to examine behavioral approaches to Folk Art, Outsider Art, and therefore Prison Art. Studying incarcerated individuals approach to art “contextualizes individual suffering and trauma, and the ways that people try to cope with problems, adjust to stressful situations, and express meaning in their lives through creativity” (Wojcik, 2008). The possible therapeutic aspects of creativity are famously documented by studies of outsiders such as Henry Darger, but are also used as a therapeutic tool for inmates who are using art in response to adversity, suffering, or personal crisis.

The Hamlet Project (2000-2002) created by the Prison Performing Arts (1988) was a program realized in Missouri Eastern Correctional Center (MECC) in the Midwestern United States. The inmates are actors, crew, designers and audience in the performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In interviews with the inmate actors, they described a resemblance to Hamlet’s moral challenges and their own lives. Founder Agnes Wilcox describes the willingness, communication and respect of the inmates involved. The demands of the programs: attendance, punctuality, excellent discipline reports, responsibility to memorize lines and choreography create achievable goals for the prisoners. The successes of the programs are demonstrated in the noted constructive thinking and appreciation for non-material reward amongst participants (Dufresne, 2006).


In an interview with a MECC inmate, an actor talks about Wilcox’s expectations, “It's like she already knows you can do this. And given the chance, you realize that you could have done it all along. It makes a person reflect--what if I had made different choices?" (Smithson, 2004, p. 23) The success of art intervention in early childhood, community development, and prison rehabilitation is apparent in the qualitative research. The available information resources are mainly studies of art programs in female prisons in America. Further research is needed on a global perspective on the potential function of the Arts in community growth and penal systems.

The incarcerated artist is an outsider artist. Their creativity reflects the emotional, spiritual, and aesthetic concerns of behind bars society in relation to the outside world. Mostly marginalized by race, gender, or ethnicity, and disempowered economically and politically, incarcerated artists can assert a voice by communicating their ideas, values, heritage, and personal stories. By studying and exhibiting this art, the behavioral approach of folklorists, psychologists, art collectors and critiques ultimately humanizes these artists. They are compelled by concerns and feelings that affect all humans. By studying the lives and art of outsider artists and incarcerated artists, “we gain crucial insights into the deeper meaning, power, and universality of the creative impulse” (Wojcik, 2008 p.1).

Art Education Theory


In order to realize relationships between art, prisoner education and rehabilitation the research of Howard Gardner, a contemporary developmental psychologist, (co-founder of Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education) provides a framework. Gardner’s work is an anchor for Human Development Psychology for educators.

Gardner discusses Desmond Morris’ ethological study of a drawing exercise conducted with a chimpanzee. The chimp is satisfied with simply creating “scribbles” similar to that of a child aged three years old. Humans will engage in the representation of life and objects. This creates the opportunity for visual symbolism (Gardner, 1994, p. 53,127). The study of children’s drawings is an accessible way to research other relationships art has to cognition (Bracey, 2001). In addition to analyzing children’s drawings as cognitive exercises, works/pieces of art, they should also be seen as a part of social practice. The drawings are a means of recording culture (Pearson, 2001).

Lowenfeld assigns the title, “scribble stage” to early childhood drawings. This “scribble” will eventually be accompanied by a description of the mark, the “named scribble” (Dubowski, 2001, p. 33). Language and picture are the meeting of “linguistic classifications” and “representational configurations.” At four to five years old, these converge and the classic child’s drawing of a house, a tree, a Mommy, a Daddy, siblings and pets are a summarization of a child’s universe (Case & Dalley, 1992, p. 118). Once the language and pictorial qualities are able


to aid one another, drawing and painting can become an alternative way to express feelings or ideas that are not comfortably or easily expressed verbally (Case & Dalley, 1992, p. 8,195). The “scribble” could pose as a metaphor for a very common adolescent, delinquent act: graffiti.

Graffiti is classified as anti-social behavior and is more rarely seen as “high art.” The term graffiti comes from the Italian, “graffito,” a term for any imagery, lettering, marked (by scratching, painting) on property. Graffiti is vandalism, typically associated with gangs. The three most emphasized aspects of the action are “place, style and purpose” (Gross, T. & Gross, D., 1993). The artist or perpetrator is identifying self, and gains a comparable satisfaction that the developing child gets by identifying significance to an image. An action that can be a subset of early juvenile offender behavior is a “scribble,” an attempt to make connections of identity and territory with symbols or words. This “coincidence” has social and educational value and context. Imagery has the unique ability to connect the ideas and feelings of the individual and the collective (Kaplan, 2007, p. 22). Art programs practiced in the school and the community can promote social inclusion.

The California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) (Facione and Facione, 1992 as cited in Lampert, 2006) is a seventy-five-question attitudinal measure that tests the discipline-neutral and internal motivation to problem framing by thoughtful reasoning. This instrument was applied to two


discipline groups in an U.S. East Coast University: art students and non-art students. Seven subscales appear in the data: inquisitiveness, systematicity, analyticity, truth seeking, open-mindedness, critical thinking, self-confidence, and critical thinking maturity. The Art students scored significantly higher than all non- arts student subjects on three of the subscales: truth seeking, critical thinking maturity and open mindedness, while non-art students had higher scores in systematicity. The artistically inclined students had a broader range of aptitudes (Lampert, 2006).

Systematicity is relating to a systematic way of thinking, of classification. Mathematics is an ideal department for this approach. The role that the arts play in support of other subjects, in opposition to art for art’s sake, is commonly respected, but often ignored (Eden & Potter, 2007).

The theory of multiple intelligences states that there are many levels of understanding rudimentary concepts. Children who memorizes times tables quickly and with ease are categorized in Gardner’s theory as having logical- mathematical intelligence. The pupil that requires more time and tutoring, learns alternatively and is likely to recognize the task conceptually (Gardner, 1983, 1993).

Gardner has identified nine intelligences, with the stipulation that this list is potentially incomplete. These nine intelligences are: spatial, linguistic, logical-


mathematical, bodily-kin aesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and existential intelligence, and naturalist (Gardner, 1983, 1993). The discipline of drawing contains spatial thinking, affecting geography, science, reading, and mathematics. The sophistication of the “scribble” is the visual symbol. The diagrams and schematic representations in Math are drawings. Crossing these disciplines is necessary because the visual aids represent and document the proportional thinking (Efland, 2002).

Art has the ability to aid the human mind in utilizing reflective thinking dispositions that they can engage in while making art an exercise in seeing something in more than one way. Art often has no “right answer.” Therefore students with access to art programs and curriculum can start grasping the idea of perspective both literally and figuratively (Lampert, 2006). The theory of art’s function and responsibility in the mind is modeled on the assumption that early childhood’s drawings are a skeleton of a human’s cognitive organization (Louis, 2005). When presented with a blank page of paper, a child that has graduated from the “scribble stage” begins to use drawing and painting to perform compositions and representations. This becomes a metaphor for problem solving.

Community Building, Art Intervention and Crime Prevention


To understand the necessity for art education and its possibilities we must understand the Arts’ role in early childhood development. Human hands are regarded as the first tools. The “first tools” such as rocks and sticks used by the first Homo sapiens are metaphoric extensions of human hands. This is the framework for creating art. Objects and images are reflections of visual perspective, utility, and life. From the beginning of time there exists a human impulse to create (Eisner & Day, 2004, p.56). What clues do these creations project about humans and how we learn positive and negative behavior?

When looking at the drawings and the representational pictorial aspects of this species of art, the viewer is most naturally looking for a narrative. Why do people tell stories? While story telling fulfills an autobiographical need, it also establishes meaning and shared stories. For young children especially, art making is an opportunity to express their narrative that is often ignored because they exist outside the adult world and its more complex problems. Shared stories can make connections to shared experiences. Art can allow students to examine a story or plot objectively, thus understanding its complexities and different perspectives (Zander, 2007).

The younger an offender is given resources such as art and theater programs the more likely they are to respond to counseling (Goulden, 2007)(Morny,1997)(Emerick, 2009). These theories and practice were developed in the United States and the United Kingdom. Places like China or Russia have


perspectives on prisoner education that is far less artistic than Western culture. Programs for young offenders are almost solely computer processing based in Hong Kong (Tam and Heng, 2008). Hong Kong was under British rule until 1997 and has a Western influence that makes it more liberal and willing than Mainland China to foster innovation (Clarke, 2002).

Drawing can be a coping mechanism for boredom, isolation, or an escape from violent social relations. It can also be a tool to investigate other interests: trains, boats, or horses. Art as expression becomes an outlet for dark stories as well as bright. Art’s usage in psychology and therapy is vital to researching culture and trauma. The sharing process also progresses to collective awareness and community (Pearson, 2001). Art programs are often used for high-risk youth, meaning the arts are used as an engagement tool before prison or juvenile detention centers (Lampert, 2006).

Eighteen Banskia Public School (Australia) students aged eight to twelve were asked to plan and execute a community art exhibition at the University of Western Sydney. In preparation, the students visited art galleries and participated in different music and visual learning experiences at the university. The student’s role in the opening night’s success created an observed self- confidence and leadership growth. The students then operated a peer learning program, where they introduced the gallery and shared the art making process to 300 other fellow students. Through teaching, the students gained perspective on


their own role as students and matured in their own behavior. The body of work in the exhibition was all local artists and community members. This singular experience integrated the community and gave the students an identity as art makers and leaders within that community (Russell-Bowie, 2005).

“Art can speak culturally, ritually and socially. The use of community art has inherent potential to foster collective identities of minority groups” (Hutzel, 2004). In urban, multicultural Bankstown the language and ethnic barriers were demolished by coalescing artworks. The concept of “Sociality” comprises the nature of the individual within the community (Rosenthal, 1996).

A Participatory Action Research (PAR) study (Hutzel, 2007) illustrates how the absence of community can have detrimental effects on the individual, namely children. The study took place in a lower income, predominantly African American neighborhood in the Midwest (America.) A project was designed to inspire social change and inform theories of community through social action and methods of art education, service-learning, and community development through art. Twenty-five youth ages 10-16 years old from a nearby arts consortium collaborated with an artist, an art teacher, an educational supervisor (and local resident), along with two program managers from the consortium. The group mapped the area with disposable cameras and drawings in order to create two murals about their community. The drawings submitted by the children portrayed optimism about what the/a community should be. There was a common


emphasis on safety, cleanliness, and greenery. There was also an overall sentiment of hopelessness for the garbage, violence, and drugs that smothered their communities (Hutzel, 2007).

The curriculum originated from asset-based community art that focuses on existent assets in the community: environmental, social, physical and human. The approach was a service-learning pedagogy: preparation, action, reflection and recognition (Hutzel, 2007). Through discussion of photographs and drawings the group planned the meaning and aesthetics of their murals. Lyzbeth, an attractive, athletic student, created a drawing about an ideal living situation where she could leave her doors unlocked, free from the threat of robbery or violence. Lyzbeth was admitted to the hospital during the study because of severe stomach pain due to stress (Hutzel, 2007).

In the study of the spontaneous autobiographical comic strips (Loock, Myburgh, Poggenpoel, 2003) the purpose for drawing is to uncover individual distress in Lyzbeth’s case, her art is given a larger purpose. She illustrates her ideas to contribute to a large project. Art therapy can also be a tool that limits the regressive, reenactment of trauma, and utilizes the competency of the art itself (Weber, 2009).

The education and psychological framework that is based in the United States indicates that creative activities can create strong, positive communities


for disadvantaged groups. If these same tactics are applied to art programs in prisons, re-offenders would decrease and high-risk communities and young people will be less likely to offend (Pollock, 1989)(Watterson, 1996).

Prisoner Artwork Exhibited in the United Kingdom

The United States hosts the Outsider Art Fair but many organizations in the United Kingdom are representing Outsider Artists. A registered arts charity called, The Koestler Trust represents mentally ill patients and incarcerated artists in London. The Koestler Trust charity depends entirely on donations and aims to:

  • ‘To help offenders, secure patients and detainees lead more positive lives by motivating them to participate and achieve in the arts’

  • ‘To increase public awareness and understanding of arts by offenders, secure patients & detainees’

  • ‘To be a dynamic, responsive organization which achieves excellent quality and value for money’ -------(KT, 2011)

    Born in Budapest, 1905, Arthur Koestler studied in Vienna until becoming a Zionist Pioneer when in Palestine. After working as a journalist in Berlin, in 1931 he joined the German Communist Party. After resigning from the party, Koestler wrote for left-wing journals in Paris. In 1936 while reporting on the Spanish Civil War, he was arrested by Franco fascists under espionage charges. He spent three months in prison in both Malaga and Seville. This period of his life


was the root of his sympathy for prisoners and belief in the need for creativity for incarcerated individuals (The Koestler Archives, 2011).

Koestler was arrested a second time in Paris at the outbreak of WWII for suspected treason. He spent three months in the Le Vernet Detention Camp before he was rescued by British intervention. After fleeing France from the German invasion he escaped to England where he was imprisoned for six weeks for illegal immigration at HMP Pentonville (Cesarani, 1998). This prison is now a participating HMP of the Koestler Trust (KT, 2011).

In 1962 Koestler finally settled in London. During his work to abolish hanging, The Koestler Awards were born and The Koestler Trust was founded. The Koestler Trust maintains its name because it was Arthur Koestler’s idea to award prisoner’s artworks as a means to validate and value inmates’ creativity. He decided to set up an annual scheme to award “creative work in the fields of literature, the arts or sciences by those physically confined” (KT, 2011).

The organization requires a large yearly number of volunteer mentors. Mentors work one-on-one with ex-prisoners, offering ten mentoring sessions over one calendar year. Each mentor must complete a full training workshop provided by the Trust. The Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) is an independent grant- making foundation that attends to matters of the arts and education, and social injustice. PHF has provided KT with a three-year grant. This funding will allow the


Koestler Trust to run a three year pilot of training artist mentors along side probation and resettlement officers. The evaluation of the pilot aims to demonstrate the benefits and reduced recidivism the arts can provide for newly released offenders (KT,2011).

The Koestler Trust has a running annual cost of £300,000. They receive an annual £45,000 grant from the Government’s Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS.) This grant was first awarded to the trust in 2007. In 2009, DIUS merged and became the Department of Business, Innovation and skills (BIS) and still awards the Koestler Trust (DBIS, 2011).

Apart from this large sum, KT depends on donations from individuals, businesses, other trusts and foundations. They are currently funded by 46 different organizations. For example, The A.B. Charitable Trust donated £5,000 to the trust for 2009/2010 year (A.B.CT, 2010.) Each award is sponsored and usually titled after one of the 83 award sponsors. Random House and the Royal London Society subsidize awards. The principal award sponsors are: Partnerships in Care- a mental health provider; Kalyx- a private prisons operator and G4S- also a prisons operator. The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales are the Exhibition sponsors (KT, 2011).

In terms of the size of each donation: £60 to £1000 is sufficient to sponsor a Commended Certificate to an Outstanding Award for an offender. £1,500 is the


cost for an artist/offender one-year mentoring relationship. £2,200 pays for the cost of printing and distribution of leaflets to advertise awards. £3000+ provides everything from exhibition events to work experience positions to ex-offenders. The judging costs include the panel’s travel expenses, and postage costs up to £5,000. The traveling exhibition display costs up to £9,000. The packing materials and transport costs for prisoner artworks is £800 alone (KT, 2011).

The Koestler Trust also depends on Her Majesty’s Prison Service and the National Offender Management Service. Not only do they secure the Trust’s location at Wormwood Scrubs Prison, but both institutions provide publicity for awards to the entire criminal justice system (KT, 2011).

The new administration in 2007 totally transformed the Trust’s level of achievement. A crucial aspect of this transformation was to renovate the technological, managerial and financial framework of the Trust. In a managerial sense there was a natural evolution after the retirement of Dorothy Salmon, who is still a central part of the staff, as supervisor of the trust archives and historical data. Tim Robertson approached his position by first diversifying the roles within the group to assure the sustainability of the Business Development Project. In 2008 two new employees shaped the Information Technology Department, updating the website, archives and imagery (KT, 2011).


The development design is anchored by three main long-term goals: “to help offenders, secure patients & detainees lead more positive lives by motivating them to participate and achieve in the arts; increase public awareness and understanding of arts by offenders, secure patients, and detainees; be a dynamic, responsive organization which achieves excellent quality and value for money” (KT, 2010).

Exhibition and Gallery Curricula and Practice

2010 was the trusts’ 49th annual UK exhibition. The awards attracted 5,619 entries in 56 art forms. Every entrant received a participation certificate; 75% received feedback written by student volunteers; and most promising entrants were offered a mentor relationship after their release from custody.

The most compelling element of the exhibition was the concept of curation. Seven curators were Londoners who have suffered from serious criminal offences against them personally or their family members. The process of finding willing curators was through referral by two groups: Victim Support, The Prison Fellowship and Why Me? (KT, 2010). Not only does this build understanding and compassion for offenders, victims and the public, but it gives the exhibition a fresh perspective.


This is a program that should undoubtedly progress in the Trust. The curator’s perspective is a bird’s eye view of the exhibition experience. The curator’s perception of what is displayed has the ability to change the atmosphere of the show as a whole (Smith, Discenza, Baker, 2005). Why not have ex-offenders and secure participants curate an exhibition? Having the artists themselves design their own group exhibition would edify group collaboration, professionalism and introduce contributors to gallery studies.

The art gallery experience should be made accessible to disadvantaged or hard to reach groups (Alcaraz, Hume, & Sullivan, 2009; Goulden, 2004). The museum becomes the classroom, a haven. The lifestyles, households, communities where offender behavior originates are left behind. The professionalism in the environment of the classroom educates them to a new set of standards and different perspectives of the world and their role in it (Dewey, 1916). This strategy is termed ‘role engulfment’ by Carlotta Goulden, Leeds- based prisoner art charity founder and offender-art education advocate. “By physically taking the inmates out of the offender role and involving them in cultural activities they are being exposed to real possibilities, positive learning experiences and a different way of living. This enables prisoners to avoid negative ‘role engulfment’ and find a new identity as artist or curator (Goulden, 2007, Silverman, 2002 pg 69).


The 2009-2010 Strategy Plan aimed to create partnerships in Manchester and Edinburgh. This resulted in two exhibitions in 2009 and two in 2010. The Holden Gallery at Manchester Metropolitan University hosted “Arts by Offenders: The Co-operative Exhibition for the North West.” Similarly, Filmhouse, in Edinburgh hosted, “Art by Offenders, Secure Patients and Detainees from Scotland: The Co-operative Koestler Exhibition for Scotland 2010” (KT, 2011). These exhibitions were successful in gaining new audiences and entrants. However, they did not generate a significant income (KT, 09/10).

The Koestler Trust could utilize its relationship with Southbank Centre and try to reach out to organizations in other parts of the world. There are many thriving, well-known organizations in the United States working in the same vein, such as: William James Association- Prison Arts Project, Prison Arts Coalition, and Save Arts In Corrections. Extending itself to show works from other countries (not just the United States) could draw a whole new audience interested in unique, stylistic, cultural elements. Globalizing the trust would require more staff, and would create costs from international shipping and correspondence (Philis, 2005, DCMS, 2001).

By using free technologies, perhaps the international submissions would be limited to digital media: film, photography, and graphic design. The initiative could easily be organized and managed by interns and or volunteers. Volunteers already solely support many existing functions of the trust.


Selling Prisoner Art Work

The decision to sell work belongs to the Koestler Awards entrant. In the case of Scottish prisons and some special hospitals, they have “No Sales” policies. Most sales typically run from £20 or £30. The prison manager may open a savings account for the winner for when he or she is released. The money has also been used to supply materials for the prison art room. Often entrants will donate all their winnings to the Koestler Trust. (KT, 2011).

If the entrant chooses to sell the work, and 75% do so, 25% is donated to Victim Support, the national charity for people affected by crime. Another 50% goes to the artist (in prisons, this is paid into the "private cash" held for each prisoner by the governor) and the remainder provides crucial income for the Koestler Trust (KT, 2011).

Sales are an essential and sometimes challenged part of the Trust’s operation. While the cash prize provides incentive for prisoner participation; it also is teaching them “marketable skills” for when they enter the workforce. However, the artist’s position in the process is extremely controlled. Many are looking to online resources where they can sell work and make a larger profit (Mead, Ed, 2010).


With competition the Koestler Trust has to find a way to create incentives for inmate artists to contribute. Advertising other well-developed work will inspire other prisoners to experiment with art. Creating films regularly and keeping them updated on the Koestler Trust website will make it easy and inexpensive for prisoners to see the possibilities of their exhibition. Creating events around the work is crucial. The Trust does have numerous, well-organized events, however they are geared towards funding and not necessarily artist recognition. In lower- security prisons and secure hospitals the Trust could host workshops and gatherings to boost morale and participation (Philis, 2005.)

The focus of the Koestler Trust in the challenge of art intervention for prisoner rehabilitation is: exhibition. The reputation and prestige of the trust does infinite good, however to holistically approach the social concerns at hand there is a need to be more attentive to art education for prisoners, ex-offenders, secure patients and disadvantaged groups in an academic and therapeutic context. “Artistic intervention at the end of sentence and upon release can act as a catalyst for lifelong learning, a different way to live and re-engage with society” (Goulden, 2004).

In a time of limited resources and prison overcrowding, art education programs are becoming the innovative approach to coping with incarcerated populations. A positive perception of these programs by the public is essential to


their growth. The Koestler Trust is the number one candidate for the Prison Arts Intervention movement.

Although The Koestler Trust is more involved than the Outsider Art Fair in working with incarcerated individuals in the production of work. They are not focused on teaching art in prisons. The education theory for offenders is rooted in the United States. However many organizations are working with art for offenders in order to strengthen communities and reduce the numbers re-offenders. S-T-R-E-T-C-H is a York based registered arts charity founded in 2003. S-T-R-E- T-C-H creates art events for the disenfranchised: the homeless, drug addicted, mental health groups and largely criminal offenders. The program functions educationally with a focus on gallery and museum exposure and exhibition (S-T- R-E-T-C-H, 2007).

A typical STRETCH project is typically six days long and is lead by a Stretch facilitator and a freelance artist. If it is a minimum-security prison the group will spend half the time in workshops onsite at the museums or galleries, other wise they are in practical workshops in the prison. All these projects culminate in a final exhibition and show within the prison or at a museum (S-T-R- E-T-C-H, 2007). The Photography Project with HMP Askham Grange, October through December of 2005 was a significant project in respect to evaluation and curriculum. Eight inmates and one officer participated. To stimulate the workshops the group focused on two contemporary exhibitions at the National


Museum of Film Photography and Television. The workshops were designed to inspire the women to create their own conceptual and practical response to the exhibitions. The women’s work was presented at the South Square Gallery in Bradford. The largest hurdle for the project was communication with Askham Grange. The atmosphere in the group was passionate and collected. The participants were extremely dedicated to their individual project and the exhibition as a whole (Goulden, 2005).

Curriculum Design

The Koestler Trust and S-T-R-E-T-C-H concentrate on developing a higher quality of artwork. Naturally the pursuit of furthering knowledge and skill is present in all curricula. Raising standards for presented works is advantageous to finding sponsorship. The agendas of the two U.K. programs have a mission to empower prisoners through art education, but they also emphasize connecting these individuals to the world through the work they produce. The Koestler Trust gives £20 to £100 awards to participants. Rewarding the prisoners with “real- world” currency gives the art a larger context. These programs also give the participants perspective on the outside world with fieldtrips to museums and galleries in S-T-R-E-T-C-H’s workshop (Koestler Trust: Art by Offenders, 2010; S-T-R-E-T-C-H, 2007).


The American curricula in the Arts and Narrative Intervention Program (ANIP) and Reaching Inside Out (RIO) are conceptually based in educational and psychological theory. ANIP’s was an “Empowerment Intervention” design, to “offer knowledge and skills to develop healthier self-concepts thus restoring control, power, and dignity” (Peled, Eisikovits, Enosh, & Winstok 2000).

The questions that prompted participants in the ANIP sessions were strategically open-ended. The questions guided the theme of the session while allowing the women to plug in their personal stories. This strategy allows for the composition of stronger stories and more in depth study of the women’s progress (DeMarrais & Lapan, pg 89, 2004)

Research and Art Education For Prisoners in the United States

Art programs in prisons first gained funding in the 1960s and 70s by the United State federal and state governments. 1n 1976 California prisons were integrated into the California Artist Council’s Artists in Social Institutions Program (Collins and Crawford, 2006). The Prison Arts Project began as a pilot project in 1977 funded by the San Francisco Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts, the California Arts Council, and the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, and later became the Arts-In-Corrections Program by legislation in 1980. The initial piece of research on the project was a full report by Lawrence G. Brewster in 1983. The report included the philosophy of the program, program


objectives and components. It described the benefits of the program to inmates and the institution. It described costs and also recommendations such as increase work positions and artist/facilitators development (Brewster, 1983). Brewster’s report will be the archetype of evaluating these programs for the purposes of this research. The Brewster report includes: Philosophy of the program; program design and staffing; method of approach; program objectives and components. The cost/benefit analysis was the notable section of the report. The data showed that the prison art program reduced incidents of violence within the prison by 75-81% and saved close to double the cost of the program in measurable benefits such as security and medical expenses. Over a five-year period, the program lowered recidivism rates by 51% (Emerick, 2009).

The Arts and Narrative Intervention Program (ANIP) began as an eight- week pilot program at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women (ICIW.) Designed by an Arts Education Professor and Assistant Nursing Professor, the program focused on imprisoned women with histories of abuse. The curriculum consisted of visual art, story telling, music and journaling. ICIW has a population of 600 women all categorized as either: General Population, Therapeutic Community, or After Care Community. ANIP’s first course involved two groups of nine women from the General Population and the After Care Community. Two nurse researchers, a social worker, and an art educator from the University of Iowa facilitated the groups (Williams & Taylor, 2004).


Each week the program held two-hour long sessions that were guided by qualitative interviews and open ended questions such as: “”What does it means to be a woman?” What do you know and how do you feel about your body?” and “What is domestic violence?”” ANIP provided a multi-disciplinary course having the women listen to blues music, while drawing, collaging and journaling about the connections they made between themselves the music and the expression (Williams & Taylor, 2004).

One individual pupil, Heather, was interviewed and exemplified in the ANIP research. Heather created autobiographical collages that amalgamate her life before prison and her life behind bars. She used clipped imagery from magazines and phrases such as, “Invest in self-esteem” and “Long term blues,” presumably influenced by the Blues music listened to in class. Through her collages and journaling Heather constructed what British gender and religious studies professor Joy, (1997, pg 38) terms as a “strategic identity.” By examining the traumas in her life she connected them to the identity she had built for herself. She gained perspective on what choices led her to prison. This perspective has the potential to elicit change to make healthier choices (Williams & Taylor, 2004).

Similarly a program in a female prison in rural Florida organized its outcome with the metaphoric framework of “inside out.” Reaching Inside Out (RIO) was also based on a multi-disciplined workshop, integrating dance and


writing as a means for expression. The course fueled dance with language. The women were able to express creative ideas, emotions and release stress while supporting their cardiovascular health. Thirty-seven women enrolled in the program and twenty of which completed it. The women were twenty-one to forty- six years old. Seven were African American, six were Caucasian, four were Latin American and one was Native American. Their crimes ranged from prostitution, drug trafficking, grand theft, murder, armed robbery, escape and kidnapping. They were serving sentences from two and a half years to life. More than half of the women reported growing up in abusive households. Eight of these women reported abuse while in prison. The education level ranged from as low as the seventh grade (approximately twelve years old) to college graduate (Mullen, 1999).

The team providing the workshop had two elements. The creative members of the team consisted of: a movement specialist for dance, a creative writing teacher and a wellness specialist. The administrative members consisted of: a program director, an advisor, and two evaluators. A prison classification officer and the assistant superintendent organized the program with the arts and administrative team (Mullen, 1999).

The inmates met four times a week for three-hour sessions (twelve hours per week) from January to March. The art classes alternated with health classes. Carol Mullen a creative writing teacher and the curriculum designer identified four


themes that structured the sessions: “Personal awareness and learning about self through the creative process; cultural awareness about self using cosmic symbols, learning about self through communal expression, and transforming community through production and performance (Mullen, 1999).

Before the workshop the participants expressed an overwhelming desire to express emotion and a need for positive involvement. In January, as well as halfway through the program, a questionnaire was administered. The general consensus was to emphasize dance and movement as means to express the emotive writing done in class. By March the group as whole had advanced. The number of course participants decreased to twenty individuals who were interested in advancing their skills in both dance and writing. The seventeen women who chose not to finish the program gave the following reasons: interference with work, knee problems, and personal stress. The health and psychological benefits such as fitness, positive attitude, and feelings of accomplishment were demonstrated in behavior and reported by guards in post- workshop interviews. The prison administration supported the program for the well being of their institution. The inmates in the program had “no disciplinary reports, showed constructive thinking, and appreciation for non material reward” (Mullen, 1999).

The prison classroom became a haven for the women. The gangs, households, and communities from where they originated were environments


that taught them the ideology that brought them to prison. The professionalism in the environment of the classroom educated them to a new set of standards and different perspectives of the world and their role in it (Dewey, 1916).

Evaluation Process

The success of these art programs is measured by the accounts of the participating inmates. The examination of each program was largely based on the women’s individual interviews. The research of art programs in detention centers and prisons is limited because there are few art education programs being operated within the penal systems. Prison communities could be evaluated more in depth in order to investigate the incarcerated individual and his/her relationship to society. ANIP, S-T-R-E-T-C-H, and RIO provided the women with a chance to open up in front of one another. The trust and understanding that occurred during the sessions built a group intimacy. The evaluation of every project conveyed the creation of a collective consciousness about female identity and empowerment.

Reaching Inside Out presented a holistic documentation of the construction and progress of their program. By developing a relationship with the administration of the prison, the program hoped to work in cooperation for the program’s success. However there were instances where the lines were crossed. For example, one inmate’s rehearsal of her dance performance violated inmate


movement restrictions. Many officers on guard during the sessions reported feeling uncomfortable with the contact between inmates during rehearsal.

The director of S-T-R-E-T-C-H, Carlotta Goulden, writes evaluations of the each project including: objectives of the project, timelines of workshops, success surveys by inmates, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis, and photography of the workshop in action. Although thorough, the evaluation could be done by an outside source to ensure its objectivity (Goulden, 2000).

Koestler Trust’s procedure: pursuing diverse funding, mentors and volunteers for their work is a strength because it is assessed by many funding bodies and professionals. The Brewster Report, (1983) on the Arts-In- Corrections Program for the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration was a formal evaluation process. There is a need for a structured evaluation process for art programs for offenders in order to: increase their realization; improve the inmate’s rehabilitation and performance; improve curriculum; and secure funding for future projects (Brewster, 1983; Goulden, 2000; Mullen, 1999; Williams & Taylor, 2004).


Chapter 3 Research Methodology


2 interviews with staff at Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum (HKCSM) 2 interviews from STRETCH (one is a prisoner from Askham Grange, the other was the director of STRETCH)
4 focus groups at HKCSM in Hong Kong.
2 interviews from The Koestler Trust

Three different exhibition spaces and organizations are the focus of this research: The Koestler Trust, S-T-R-E-T-C-H, and The Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum. All three organizations exhibit and represent. Prisoner artwork and prison life, but in very different ways. While the majority of art programs are happening in United States prisons, the history of China and Great Britain provide a distinction to the methods of exhibiting, marketing and educating.

The research paradigm will be an interpretivist, qualitative approach. Data will be collected and analyzed from interviews from museum staff, coordinators, directors, and four focus groups. The research will show perspectives from prison administrative officers, participating inmates, artists, museum management, and coordinators of charity organizations.



S-T-R-E-T-C-H’s director is also its founder Carlotta Goulden. The author of this research and the relationship with Goulden began over email that led to a phone interview on December 8th, 2010. The phone interview was informal and resulted in a scheduled, in-person interview in Leeds, England near her office on December 21st, 2010.

As the holidays were approaching, Leeds was an achievable destination from this researcher’s home in London. A family friend lives in nearby York, and volunteered a place to stay, meals and transport from York to Leeds on the day of the interview. A small car rental fee of £112 was required to travel to and from York.

Initially, this interview provided a better understanding of the work that S- T-R-E-T-C-H does, its challenges, and forthcoming projects. More importantly it forged a familiarity between Goulden and the author. Goulden has shared her own Masters dissertation for the purposes of this dissertation. She has also been in contact via email with the author concerning specific questions on exhibition methods and gallery educational tactics S-T-R-E-T-C-H employs. Goulden became a mentor for this project.

The most valuable of Goulden’s contributions was her introduction to a second interview with an inmate and S-T-R-E-T-C-H participant at HMP Askham


Grange. To ensure quality research ethics in interviewing a vulnerable subject the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS) was utilized. IRAS “is a single system for applying for the permission and approvals for health and social care/community care research in the U.K.” (IRAS, 2010). IRAS captures the information needed from the following review bodies: Administration of Radioactive Substances Advisory Committee (ARSAC), Gene Therapy Advisory Committee (GTAC), Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), The Ministry of Justice, the National Health Service (NHS / HSC R&D) offices, NRES/ NHS / HSC Research Ethics Committees, National Information Governance Board (NIG), National Offender Management Service (NOMS), and the Social Care Research Ethics Committee. This is a valuable tool for the purposes of this research in protecting human subjects or participants.

This researcher project completed the “project filter questionnaire” which uses online database filters to ensure that the data collected and collated is appropriate to the type of study and consequently the permissions and approvals required” (IRAS, 2010).

Although this helped ensure the Askham Grange staff that this research was professional and genuine, the questionnaire was not actually used for this interview. There was an additional interview at HMP Holloway using the questionnaire that was unsuccessful and did not suit the purposes of this research.


The interview at Askham Grange with the S-T-R-E-T-C-H participant was a turning point in the project. The focus of the interview was the exhibition portion of the S-T-R-E-T-C-H curricula:

Did you consider the day of the gallery show of your work the reward for the work of the weeklong S-T-R-E-T-C-H workshop?

What were your feelings before and after the day of the exhibition about your obstacles and accomplishments throughout the workshop?

Did any of friends or family from home see your photographs or collages?

When you saw the title of “artist” with your name on the wall, did that make you feel differently about yourself?

The time frame with this subject was limited to thirty minutes by Askham Grange visitor’s policy. Therefore the questions asked had to be specifically about the day of the exhibition, but also target the subjects feelings of success on the workshop as a whole. There was a slow pace to the conversation initially as the subject initially did not wish to be audio recorded. The slow pace contributed to some hostile behavior and aggressive remarks from the subject. The subject’s desire to be interviewed and to talk and be heard surmounted any frustrations


overall. She agreed to be audio recorded after understanding that it would make a better interview.

The perspective of an incarcerated artist gives this research a framework. It is the crux of the study. To exclude this point of view would be to deny the source of the market, making it impossible to understand why people buy and exhibit Prison Art. Social inclusion occurs as either forethought or an afterthought in the exhibition of prisoner’s artwork. Educational bodies and art institutions that see the value of prisoner education for society support prisons and communities who try to reach these hard-to-reach populations. The conversation with this interviewee aided in the understanding of what happens to prisoner morale and art practice after the exhibition of their art (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998).

The Koestler Trust

An informal email correspondence with the Arts Director, Fiona Curran resulted in this author’s volunteer placement for handling hundreds of prisoner works submitted for awards. This relationship opened this researcher’s dialogue and awareness to other funding bodies, talented prisoner artists, and artist mentors working with offenders. This volunteer position was intended to lead to many interviews and other sources of data collection. However, the two and a half month period of volunteering forged only weak ties. The interviews that were expected with inmates and artist mentors were unavailable.


Arts Director Curran was unable to have a thirty-minute interview. This was disappointing as there was time for a shorter interview; it was simply not a priority for the organization. There were two interviews that represented The Koestler Trust for this study. The first was with the Outreach and Education Coordinator, Sarah Mathéve and the second with, Robbie James, Arts Assistant.

The two interviews at Koestler Trust focused on the moral grey areas that the staff encounters in presentation and profit of prisoner art. The Koestler Trust has been functioning since the 1960s; both Mathéve and James are in the early 30s and have only worked at Koestler for 2-3 years. The Koestler Trust website is detailed on the companies structure and practice. This researcher’s volunteer position at The Koestler Trust also gave insight into the companies approaches to exhibition, funding, and relationships between staff and incarcerated artists.

Despite a professional relationship with the organization the response to this research and interviews was negligible for Koestler directors. The interviewees were very helpful but also were asked not to give too much of their time to interviewing as it was considered a waste.

Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum

The Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum was very accommodating in helping organize focus groups. Because Cantonese and Mandarin will be the predominant language of all the staff it was vital that they provide translators and interpreters for each session.


The choice to use focus groups was opportunistic. It was also the best way to collect data. Group interviews are a convenient and fast way for researchers to collect data from multiple people simultaneously but the group interaction is a crucial element to this technique. The aim of these focus groups was to discover what HKCSM does similarly and differently to The Koestler Trust and S-T-R-E-T-C-H in exhibition approaches. Hong Kong’s unique history makes the experiences of this population very different from the experiences of subjects in the United Kingdom or America. Therefore it was important that the interviewees be able to speak with each other and not just the researcher. The group method worked well. The people speaking Chinese were able to build ideas and conversations with each other as well as the group. This researcher was particularly interested in the divergence between the older Chinese subjects and younger multicultural members of the group (Kitzinger, 1994).

Before the focus groups began, there were seven questions constructed based on this researchers experience and mapping out of the exhibition. The aim was to discover how different visitors were impacted by their experience at HKCSM’s galleries. Initially there was no decided number of focus groups. The original arrangement between the author and HKCSM was that a designated member of staff would phone the author on days that there would be an available meeting room or office on the second level, private area of the museum. This meant the author would be on call for almost 3 weeks, Monday through Friday. This was the cause of two missed opportunities for focus groups with two school


groups, but regardless four focus groups were successful from June 20th to August 1st, 2011.


Chapter 4 Empirical Findings and Analysis

The Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum

The Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum is located in Stanley, Hong Kong located about 15 kilometers from the city’s center. Although Stanley market and beaches have heavy foot traffic, the museum’s location is one that must be sought out. A mock guard tower stands on the top of the building as it can be seen and understood as the theme of the museum from the waterfront. Located far from any other attractions the museum is truly one of a kind. With an area of 480 square meters, it was originally used for the Staff Training Institute of Hong Kong Correctional Services Department. The museum is under the management of the Correctional Services Department Staff Training Institute (STI). Mr. Daniel Chan is the Principal of the STI (HKCSM, 2011).

HKCSM currently houses 678 artifacts representing the history of Stanley Prison and Hong Kong from 1840 until now. The museum has ten small galleries with one mock gallows and two mock cells. Although there are many galleries, the museum is made up of about seven small rooms. The experience there is a quiet and intimate one. There is a serene outdoor area of about 200 square meters that overlooks Tai Tam Bay (HKCSM, 2011).

The Ten Galleries include:
Gallery One: Punishment and Imprisonment


Gallery Two: Prisons History and Development
Gallery Three: Prisons History and Development (Continued) Gallery Four: Inside Prisons
Gallery Five: Staff Uniform, Insignia and Accoutrement Gallery 6: Vietnamese Boat People
Gallery 7: Home Made Weapons and Unauthorized Articles Gallery 8: Staff Events
Gallery 9: Industries and Vocational Training Section
Gallery 10: Overseas Cooperation and Experience Sharing (HKCSM, 2011).

Hong Kong’s penal system is indispensable to the story of Hong Kong. The country has faced multiple political, economic, social and judicial changes that make its history unique. Being a trading port and a refugee center, the “rootlessness” (Ho, 1998) of Hong Kong is highlighted in the “Vietnamese Boat People” and “Home made Weapons and Unauthorized Articles” galleries. The imagery and objects of the refugees are gut wrenching and sometimes beautiful. Handmade chess sets are placed next to books with shapes cut out of the pages to conceal knives. There are large print black and white photos from the 1970s when the first group of refugees sailed to Hong Kong to escape Vietnam (HKCSM, 2011).


Hong Kong is currently one of the safest cities in the world. The Hong Kong Correctional Services Department holds this museum as a trophy of its history, its future and accomplishments. It is interesting that the museum devotes space to representing the prisoner and does not entirely devote itself to the police force (HKCSM, 2011).

Although Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum is not exhibiting prisoner paintings or drawings, it is exhibiting their art, their creativity and their narrative from a caged perspective. HKCSM aims for their visitors to leave with ‘an understanding of the what happened to those of us who never were able to tell their own histories...’ said, Angel Lam, HKCSM aide. ‘The Museum is very unique and it is difficult to attract the young people... because we are apart of government we are limited in what we can change about the exhibits’ (Appendix A p.81).

According to the HKCSM Office Manager, Terence Cheung, ‘There have not been formal statistics on who is visiting this place and how many people are visiting the place since 2003, a year after it began... most of our visitors come from Stanley market where they shop, but even these people are finding us before they come to Stanley and planning our visit.... We have no foot traffic, people coming off the street, none’ (Appendix B p. 83).

Struggling to find an audience and keep the material contemporary are the main obstacles for HKCSM staff, but they do not share the same goals as their


proprietor, Hong Kong Correctional Services Department, and the Hong Kong Government. The powers that be want the museum ‘to stand as a testimony to the work that the department has done and will do, and it certainly does that if nothing else,’ said Terence Cheung (Appendix B p. 83).

Hong Kong Correctional Services Focus Groups

June 25th 2011 Saturday 4:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m. 8 people

Group Member


Age Group





























White (English)




White (English)

The first focus group (Group A) included eight museum visitors. The visitors were given small cut out sheets that asked for three pieces of


information: gender, age, and race. While analyzing the data each age was placed into one of five categories: (below 16, 16-24, 25-39, 40-59, 60+). These age ranges were selected based on a group interview model from a study on AIDS in the late 1980s (Basch, 1987 p.414). It was selected because like the model, five age ranges is the minimum amount for learning about the differences between the way old and young people think or feel on topical issues without being invasive (Basch, 1987)(Kitzinger,1994).

Visitors entering HKCSM on June 25th, 2011 were invited to participate in a discussion held at 4:00 p.m. that afternoon. From 10 a.m. to about 3:00 p.m. a Cantonese-speaking member of staff and this researcher stood at the entrance of HKCSM to greet and explain the project and this research. Eight participants gathered at the entrance of the museum. The turnout was larger than anticipated, but the weekend was busier than usual. There were few theories as to why the museum had such high numbers, but the weather was sunny and the nearby beach and surrounding shopping areas were full of activity.

There were three visible racial and familial groups that made up the entire assembly: a Korean mother, her daughter and a teenage friend; a British married couple; and three older Chinese men. The eight participants were ushered to the second floor of HKCSM in a small white room with only a table and chairs. The room was barely big enough and was uncomfortable for the group members that were last to enter.


In a ten-minute introduction, the purpose of the research was explained briefly as a study for exhibition theory for vulnerable groups, such as prisoners. The group member, one staff member and this researcher simply exchanged names. The first question was for each person to describe the exhibit of objects made by prisoners in one word, and then tell the group why they chose this word.

Several members of the group did not participate, specifically the two teenage girls. This lack of participation caused the next focus group to be cut at five people. On a Tuesday, the second group was selected rather than simply collected. Four of the five people were retired and had a perceptible interest in the history of HKCSM and of course the exhibition’s content. The volume of museum visitors was less midweek, but this provided a more relaxed and open environment.

July 12th 2011 Tuesday 10 a.m.- 10:45 a.m. 5 people

Group Member


Age Group






















White (Australian)

Group B was more composed then Group A. The discussion leaders more focused. As first time focus group interviewer and transcriber the less people in the group, the easier it was for this author to absorb what was said in a short time. Group B were benevolent in terms of accommodating an English speaking interviewer and generous with their time. The translator only interfered twice throughout the forty-five minute session. The session was successful because of the overall resemblance in the group in gender and age, apart from one young woman. The group felt comfortable with each other and the situation. The room fit five people well and although it is stark and hospital-like it provided a clear and open atmosphere for discussion.

With the success of Group B, smaller groups were to be organized from there on. On a Thursday July 29th a group was arranged before noon in Stanley Market nearby. This was necessary because the group needed to view the exhibition and museum together (or at the same time) and then be separated by gender as this seemed to be a chance to understand a young female perspective. Therefore two teenage girls were asked to participate along with a 25-year-old female. The older woman was placed intentionally with the younger girls in hopes that she might serve as a leader or mentor in discussion. The male section of Group C knew each other before the interview as classmates. This


made for assertiveness and strong opinions in their interview, however the conversation was easily diverted from the topic.

July 29th 2011 Thursday 4:30 p.m.- 5:15 p.m. 3 people

Group Member


Age Group














July 29th Thursday 4:00 p.m.- 4:30 p.m. 3 people

Group Member


Age Group









White (French)




White (French)


The findings from the focus groups ranged from different portions of the exhibition. The young men found the weaponry provocative and exciting. A young man from focus group C: 1 exclaimed, ‘DID YOU SEE THE T-BOLT?!’ A “T-Bolt” was later explained as a military term for Republic P-47/F-47 Thunderbolt, in this case a homemade imposter (Appendix G p. 94). The women liked the domestic items, ‘.... Imagine someone cutting up their favorite book because they had to keep a knife inside for protection...’ (Appendix H p. 96).

What attracted people to the objects of the prisoners were the elements with which they could identify? HKCSM honors the history of Stanley Prison, its staff and its prisoners. It gives us an intimate and tender look into the lives of the Southeast Asian inmates. There is a universal quality to the experience of the exhibition. People of all ages and races seem to understand the intimacy, familiarity, the beauty in what they are seeing.

There was a divide between the groups in the respect that younger visitors, specifically women also understood their experience with the objects as invasive, particularly those of the Vietnamese refugees. ‘It’s a bit like looking at something horrible that you can’t look away... like an accident of some kind...’ (Appendix H p.96). The viewing of the objects was less personal for the male subjects. They seemed to understand the objects as one group, not as an individual’s belongings. The young lady in Group C noted that the person cut up


their ‘favorite book...’ (Appendix H p. 96) The female interviewees seem to connect the objects to its owner, a human, in an emotive way.

Why Display Prison Art

The exhibitions of prisoner art by The Koestler Trust and S-T-R-E-T-C-H differ from HKCSM because they are transient shows at different venues. The permanence of the museum setting gives HKCSM a distinction and advantage.

An important part of the S-T-R-E-T-C-H curricula is the museum and exhibition exposure. Taking the museum and gallery atmosphere to the inmates allows them to take a different role than: criminal. Carlotta Goulden, founder and director of S-T-R-E-T-C-H employs what she calls ‘role engulfment’ strategy in her workshops, “by physically taking women out of the offender role and involving them in cultural activities they are being exposed to real possibilities, positive learning experiences and a different way of living. This enables prisoners to avoid ‘role engulfment’ and find a new identity” (Goulden, 2007, Silverman, 2000 pg 69).

‘This allows them to change who they are, even for a day. They become an artist instead of a murderer, a thief. The professionalism of the gallery atmosphere brings the behavior elevates the sophistication with which they speak to each other and to everyone. Sometimes it’s about looking at who you want to be not


who you are.... Making art is simply the vehicle and the exhibition process is vital to the completion of this transformation.’ (Appendix C p.85).

The research for art as therapy indicates that exhibiting the art is just as beneficial as making the art. In an interview with a S-T-R-E-T-C-H workshop participant this author intended to understand these benefits. When asked about seeing the title of artist next her name at the gallery show of her photographs she said, ‘I mean I’m the same. But I guess its like I did something good. I wish my family could’ve seen that’ (Appendix D p.87).

S-T-R-E-T-C-H programs give the power to the inmate artist. They are empowered by their role as maker and as curator. It promotes teamwork and professionalism, ‘Yeah, I was proud of it.... I was stressed out that day because the room we was doing it in was too small and people were fighting... in the end we worked it out. We all helped each other out and made comprises’ (Appendix D p.86-7). The challenges of exhibiting art are vast for museum curators and of course for the participants in this program as well. Overcoming these obstacles gives them a connection to the world and a vocation.

Museum curators and historians organize the HKCSM exhibitions. This exhibition serves a different purpose than a S-T-R-E-T-C-H exhibition. It is revealing to the public what only someone inside a prison can see and know. It is humanizing the people that are excluded from society for their crimes. As a


member of Group C pointed out, ‘It’s all these shows, “Banged Up Abroad” (Banged Up Abroad is a National Geographic documentary television series on the stories of people being arrested and imprisoned in foreign countries) and documentaries about gangs- people want to know about that mysterious life behind bars...morbid curiosity’ (Appendix G p. 96).

Marketing Strategies for HKCSM

The growing interest in prison life is the key to success and further establishment of art programs within prison systems. S-T-R-E-T-C-H and The Koestler Trust are working with museums and curators towards updating and refining their exhibition methods, but marketing prison is difficult. HKCSM has difficulty finding young and new audiences.

The concentration for Group B was to read into their ideas of how this experience could be marketed well and to a wider audience. As HKCSM staff stated, ‘The issue of location is difficult because the secluded nature of the place is integral to its history and the experience’ (Appendix A p. 82). The marketing of the exhibitions at HKCSM is virtually nonexistent. They are listed as a place to see in sightseeing books but typically see, ‘Usually older people, with interests in history. We are in Lonely Planet though so occasionally we get interested backpackers and travelers from the U.K. and Australia’ said HKCSM staff member (Appendix A p. 82).


How does one advertise prison objects? Focus Group B had some ideas on how HKCSM could popularize itself in Hong Kong and internationally.

‘Do you think there are other museums that this museum could piggyback?’

(Appendix F p. 92).

The group as a whole seemed to feel doubtful that this would be possible in Hong Kong. The only large museums are also troubled in terms of finding visitors. The favored museum was the Hong Kong Museum of History, not an art museum. One group member noted that the narrative quality of the Hong Kong Museum of History would parallel the story-quality of the HKCSM.

‘Do you think marketing this as art would be more successful than marketing this as a history exhibition?’ (Appendix F p. 92).

Initially the group seemed to feel like this was definitely to be categorized as history, but as the conversation developed, three of them had decided that the art gallery or museum approach would make the project/exhibition unique. By changing the image of “history museums” into “object museums.” Seeing these artifacts as sculptures is much more interesting than seeing them as “stuff.”

The group unanimously indicated that the exhibit was too fragile to travel and even if it did it would still not encourage too much interest in HKCSM. This


was supported by the belief that the location of the museum is integral to the experience of seeing the objects. The order in which the exhibition rooms are placed is deliberate and somewhat narrative.

What is the paramount gallery of HKCSM? (Appendix F p. 93).

The group went back and forth quite a bit in this discussion. There is a actual sized model of a prison cell that was a popular response. The interested parties liked that it was interactive. It gave you a “feeling” of what it must be like. Another prevalent response was “Vietnamese Boat People” gallery. This was where all the beautiful handmade chessboards and personal artifacts are on display. This was discussed a great deal in Group C: 1, the all female group really connected with the personal objects. Seeing those belongings was very moving for them.


S-T-R-E-T-C-H is using exhibition as an educational tool for the prisoners. HKCSM’s exhibition is about prisoners. The Koestler trust is somewhere in between because although they are working with prisoners to produce the art the focus is on selling the work as well. For both HKCSM and The Koestler Trust the concerns were those of to whom the art belongs? Who has the right to exhibit it?


‘We have a system of how the money is distributed after a sale is made. 50% of the profits will go to the artist. The prison they belong to will then decide what happens to the money after that.’ (Appendix J p. 97).

Robbie James of The Koestler Trust described the process of dividing the profit of a prisoner’s painting in an unsentimental and vague manner. ‘The artist’s rights have been waved for his or her crime by the government’ (Appendix J p. 98). Sarah Mathéve, Education and Outreach Coordinator for The Koestler Trust stated, ‘The artists volunteer to participate in these contests knowing how much money will be involved... if money isn’t the issue then they will be able to show their work, many visual artists who are NOT incarcerated do not even get that opportunity” (Appendix I p. 97).

The Koestler Trust approach to the moral question of ownership is at times arrogant, but also realistic. The interesting distinction between The Koestler Trust exhibition and HKCSM is that there is no agreement between the “artist” and the organizations exhibiting, owning their objects. HKCSM is also not at liberty to sell any of said objects. In Group A the act of displaying objects that belong to prisoners was discussed as an ethical question.

‘What type of objects are these artifacts in Vietnamese Boat People gallery? An art object... or something else?’ (Appendix E p. 89)


‘Some of them, yes. The chessboards and the dolls. They weren’t intended as art objects but in this context they are... so the difference is that similar to some of say... Duchamp’s sculptures- if you put it in a bathroom it’s a toilet, if you put it in a museum it’s a sculpture.’ (Appendix E p. 90)

The group didn’t agree entirely. There was another way of thinking that there is a type of object that is not historical or art. That this was something else without a name. There was a small discussion about narratives. The group noted that walking through HKCSM in the order of the galleries is like walking through a story. The group felt that HKCSM did a good job of guiding them through a story that was at times very sad, but also a story about courage and strength.

‘Why do people that are imprisoned need to make things?’ (Appendix E p. 90)

‘They must do something with their time. If they don’t time will pass and they will die having left no trace. We make things to leave a mark on the world.’ (Appendix E p. 91)

The group member was a leader in the group and sparked an interesting discussion with one other member. They discussed workers and builders and posed the idea that they too were artists.


‘It is human nature to want to be useful. You cannot do nothing. There is always something you can do, and I imagine that this helps them survive the life they must live.’ (Appendix E p. 91)

‘Do you think the manner in which this story and these objects are exhibited is respectful to the history of the people they are made by or are about?’ (Appendix E p. 91)

Every group member agreed that HKCSM did indeed exhibit respectfully. There was doubt that the exhibit would upset anyone who was a part of the display either by photograph, video, or by one of their belongings. The galleries were understood as honoring the people and the stories they were representing.

Interviews in United Kingdom, United States and Hong Kong

The research conducted was on three different continents. The cultural differences that exist between Eastern and Western cultures bled into this study. In Hong Kong the language barrier was not as severe as it could have been in Mainland China. Because it was a British colony until 1997 there is a British influence as well as an admiration for Western culture.

The focus was to collect primary data outside of the United States because there are more programs and research already in practice there. The research conducted in London was in some ways more challenging as the art community there is suffering financially due to budget cuts in 2010. People were


less willing to give their time and energy to this project. The ‘Outsider Art’ market in London is similar to New York, if not identical.

Hong Kong’s relationship to the art world has experienced a lot of growth in the past three years (Zhang, 2008). There are lots of small galleries and art investment, however stylistically they are very mainstream and singular. The introduction of the “Outsider Artist” to the Hong Kong market would predictably be quite successful, as it was in the Great Britain and the United States. Conceptually, the idea of the “outsider” is somewhat parallel to the history of Hong Kong. It has a unique story and as a result has several niche audiences that are at times so apathetic to differences that it actually makes them very open to new ideas.

Conducting research on the subject of vulnerable art involved interviewing several vulnerable subjects. The most obvious would be the inmate at Askham Grange, but the focus groups in Hong Kong were also vulnerable as English was their second language.


Chapter 5 Conclusions

Outsider Art and Prison Life in Hong Kong

In Asia, the work of the self taught artist is rarely classified as Outsider Art. More typically a particular self-taught artist will be the focus of a retrospective or a gallery exhibition in densely populated Hong Kong. Still commonly referred to as Folk Art, the Self-Taught artist is also a rising star in Hong Kong; which has a unique dualistic history and culture.

Since the Chinese government resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong territory in 1997 its unique heritage and distinct identity seeks an autonomous approach to cultural policy. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and the Arts and Development Council (ADC) work together under the Home Affairs Bureau (HBA, 2010) (Clarke, 2002). The influence of the United Kingdom, Chinese government, and Western culture simultaneously impinge on Hong Kong’s changing art and cultural scene. Information and analysis of Hong Kong’s approach to the exhibition of Outsider Art is limited because Hong Kong’s gallery and museum scene is transient, international, and constantly transforming (Clarke, 2002).

Prisoner Art can be paralleled to refugee artwork in the Hong Kong exhibition scene. Hong Kong has no domestic legislation for handling asylum


seekers or refugees. Therefore the Hong Kong government has adopted Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNCHR) as its determination system (Clarke, 2000). The global involvement meant that many Western countries have and have had interest in exhibiting the artwork of refugees. There is a particularly unique Hong Kong based and operated museum, called The Hong Kong Correctional Museum (LCSD, 2010). The space is completely devoted to the skillful exhibition prison life and art (HKCSM, 2011).

Exhibiting Vulnerable Art

The educational bodies, museums, galleries, auction houses, government funding bodies that market, produce, and support the artwork of institutionalized or incarcerated artists face many ethical issues. The moral complications in exhibiting work collected by Holocaust victims are carefully attended to. The work of Henry Darger, famous American Outsider Artist was only discovered after his death; he had no known relatives. His works have been distributed around the United States and are included in the permanent collections such as: the Museum of Modern Art and the American Folk Art Museum in New York, Inuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (Chicago), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Collection de l’Art Brut (Lausanne)(Fine, 2004). S-T-R-E-T-C-H, the art education and outreach arts charity employs a prisoner-oriented process to their work. The work is exhibited but this is a means


to expose the prisoner to exhibition curricula and team building. For the Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum, the exhibition is to recognize the history of prison life in Hong Kong and the handmade objects of many detained refugees.

All three organizations must address prisoner rights. There is a question of ownership. Their government has waved the artist’s rights, therefore the possible profits and fame of any of the work comes into question. The Koestler Trust has found a mathematical solution for the profit of prisoner work. If prisons themselves take active roles in the production, exhibition and even selling of prisoner artwork government policy will need to establish systems for programs and profit.

The Outsider Art Fair in New York is very successful. With so many art education programs in the United States, companies, organizations and galleries organize the works for the fair. However, based on the collection of said galleries and organizations it could appear that the art is to some extent, labeled and categorized by diseases, syndromes, and social exclusion.

This is another reason why the question of where any or all profits of prisoner artwork is so significant. The Koestler Trust, S-T-R-E-T-C-H, and Hong Kong Corrrectional Services Museum all have to confront the manner in which they exhibit the art of such disadvantaged groups. HKCSM displays the art of the Vietnamese refugees as singular; no one artist is recognized by name. On the


other hand, The Koestler Trust often has art shows where the inmate’s family may attend and see their family member’s drawings, paintings or sculpture.

In the same vein that the market for Outsider Art’s growth has raised ethical questions, there are many moral ambiguities involved in the promotion and future of exhibiting Prison Art. The knowledge that art programs can aid prisons in inmate rehabilitation can provide a moral backbone to the marketing of selling and exhibiting Prison Art. With Outsider Art as a support system or umbrella market, Prison Art can change the global art community and promote social reform.

Prison Art Exhibition and Social Reform

In order to critically examine the role of the artist, management, and audience in the exhibition and marketing of prison art as “Outsider Art” we must look at different approaches. The Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum has some strategies that if implemented in programs such as S-T-R-E-T-C-H and the Koestler Trust could advance their cause for social inclusion and prison education infinitely. In other words, perhaps a hybrid of the three organizations would succeed.

Examining the most successful gallery exhibition strategies is essential on discovering routes to market these programs and the produced art as “Outsider


Art” or art for sale. This will also serve to make the programs more appealing to larger creative and bureaucratic bodies.

The knowledge that conceptually frames the curricula of past art workshops in prisons validates successful methods in rehabilitating inmates. The educational validity, evaluation, presentation and marketing of these controversial programs are all essential to a successful future of art education for prisoners. The cohesive operation of the programs presents them positively in the public eye. This support becomes essential for pursuing more government funding for creative courses in prisons (Social Exclusion Unit, 2002).

S-T-R-E-T-C-H experiences difficulty because the approach is so straightforward. That art education in prison can help rehabilitate prisoners. This will be a difficult idea to sell to taxpayers, despite all the research and education/psychological theory to support that it in fact does. The Koestler Trust is on the different side of the spectrum because it lacks the educational value that S-T-R-E-T-C-H provides. Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum has the prestige of a museum and gallery but is exhibiting solely prisoner art and history. The compassion for the incarcerated population in China is hard to come by and HKCSM manages to stand as a government funded respected organization.

If “Prison Art” can become an asset to art buyers the way that “Outsider Art” did than this will greatly benefit social inclusion and prisoner education. The art made behind bars is unique and valuable. Looking at the most downtrodden group in our societies in a proactive, productive, and compassionate manner will


affect the world community positively. The response from the individuals who where interviewed as apart of this research were overall very insightful and helpful. Although language barriers and time constraints were obstacles at times, these limitations made it easier to grasp what concepts and findings were significant.

Continuing this research will be straightforward and will happen naturally as this is a rising market. Exhibition strategy will apply similarly to exhibiting ‘Outsider Art’ when exhibiting work by incarcerated artists. The moral questions and practical issues involved are challenging. The marketing of prisoner art is not as difficult as being sure that exhibition and selling procedures are respectful, legal, and fair.


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