Wednesday 6th November, marked our Eighth and last DrawingConnections session for 2019. It was a wonderful gathering of participants; colleagues, family, associates in the field. Like-minded people and now I would say, friends.
We (Hector and me) tried to get there an hour or so ahead of the celebrations and with the help of Noel, Penal Reform Solutions converted the Ecobuild in to an exhibition space of a selection of work produced during the project.
Congregating at the front of the main house, with the fantastic support of Prison Officer Glenys, starting with the Buddha Grove we took a walk around through the Springhill estate green spaces which had inspired much of our work. Looping through the woods and round across the exercise field to where Luis from Nanna Mexico was set up where we were joined by Custodial Manager, Pete. All those taking part in the end of course celebration were invited to get a custom made, delicious burrito (some for the first time in their lives), before returning to the Ecobuild to enjoy the work exhibited and conversation together.
We were honoured to be joined by Julia Upton MBE, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, along with representatives of Bucks Association for the Care of Offenders (BACO), Milly Soames, Fiona Paine & Ruth Farwell. We were also delighted to welcome Dora from the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance, parents and friends of participants, both from College and within Springhill.
Julia Upton, gave an encouraging speech about the importance of Art & Creativity, in her working life within Education and much of her work as High Sheriff in the community, particularly in areas of wellbeing and encouraging positive mental health. Following this certificates of participation were presented to all those who took part in the project and attended the celebration.
All in all, it was an enjoyable afternoon, full of thanks and good cheer. It was both rewarding and insightful for all who took Parton the celebration, with many new accomplishments; whether as a visitor to a Cat D prison for the first time; someone eating a burrito for the the first time, or seeing the creative work of someone for the first time. Perhaps even for some, as one door closes, another begins to open.
We give thanks to all for taking part: Governor Becky Hayward and staff for their support in the prison for allowing the project to take place in their grounds; the participants for agreeing to take part, making the project possible; the funders who enabled the project to proceed; the Artists for their professionalism in their respective sessions; the staff at Banbury & Bicester College Art Faculty and members of the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge for their patience and support; and not least Hector for his encouragement, contributions in every way and fantastic taxi service, collecting me & artists from the station & delivering us to Springhill. Champion!