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Curating Captive Art #3

From Morgan Hardie, emerging artist and curator of the recent exhibition Captive Art #3 in the Stove cafe:

I am a portrait artist based in Dumfries, I graduated with a HND in Art and Design three years ago at Dumfries and Galloway College and have continued since then as self-taught. I have a huge interest and wish to pursue a career in the therapeutic arts, which is why I was really excited when I was offered the opportunity to curate Captive Art #3! I believe it is so important that the prisoners have the chance to show their work outside of prison walls and to offer the local community a better understanding of prison rehabilitation, and how art practice and creative writing play a fundamental part in this.

Captive Art 3 - The Stove Network

The experience of curating the exhibition was so busy and enjoyable, I loved all of the different aspects from selecting the work in Dumfries Prison to hanging the exhibition the day before the opening. I had written out a plan covering everything that needed to be done and how I was going to do it, and with some help from blueprint100 and the prison education department, I think I managed to stay fairly organised! Selecting the artwork was probably the most challenging, as there was a huge variety to choose from and such limited wall space in The Stove Café, but I managed to really narrow it down and include work which demonstrated a range of different styles and techniques.

Captive Art 3 - The Stove Network

The reason I chose the painting called ‘The Nearest Faraway Place’ to be used on the posters and invites, apart from it being my personal favourite, was because of the story behind it and the immense detail portrayed. The artist had explained to me that the painting was a representation of a dream he’d had, and he had felt the need to paint it on to canvas.

Captive Art 3 - The Stove Network

My main goal was to involve the prisoners as much as possible, as it is their exhibition after all. I took information about The Stove up to the prison, along with photographs of the space so that they were clued up on where their work was going. I had decided to keep all of the work anonymous, but instead had asked each artist for a small statement on what art does for them on a personal level and included this on their labels. I received really good feedback at the opening event about this personal touch, as well as the prisoners’ poems which were read out at the beginning and the other written work which was also on display. I found that the visitors really liked that interesting connection between art and writing as it helps them to gain a more informative insight, which is exactly what I had hoped for.

Captive Art 3 - The Stove Network

The opening event was more successful than I imagined it would be, and I hope the exhibition continues to deliver and inform for the remaining time that it is on display. Hopefully everyone enjoys the exhibition as much as I loved curating it!

All Images: Kirstin McEwan


Captive Art 3 Comes to The Stove Network

An exhibition of original artwork and poetry by inmates from HMP Dumfries opened on 3rd October at The Stove, Dumfries. Organised by emerging artists’ platform, blueprint100 and curated by local artist Morgan Hardie, the exhibition included creative contributions ranging from oil on canvas, pastels, watercolours, ink drawings, as well as a selection of written work.

An example of work from one of the inmates at HMP Dumfries.

John Oates, Learning Centre Manager at HMP Dumfries, commented, “The Learning Centre at HMP Dumfries has an ethos in which we try to encourage positive learning and positive learning outcomes, including equality, tolerance, inclusiveness and development of community spirit. Through creative practices, we aim to enhance self-esteem and break down cultural barriers; in short, we want to positively change lives.”

The Learning Centre at HMP Dumfries regularly hold celebrations of learning achievement, and the Captive Art 3 Exhibition was­ a chance for the prisoners to gain public recognition for their achievements, through the attendance of invited guests from the local artistic and educational community. Local SNP member, Joan McAlpine, and Oliver Mundell MSP were amongst those present at the opening of the exhibition, as well as Andy Huntstone, the Deputy Governor at HMP Dumfries. The inmates also had the opportunity to display and sell their work at a recent Creative Art Exhibition at HMP Dumfries, with the proceeds from all sales going to a nominated local charity.

Captive Art 3 - The Stove Network
Captive Art 3 Exhibition Launch at The Stove Network.

One prisoner commented, “All year long, the poets and artists at HMP Dumfries look forward to this particular event, as it allows us the opportunity to show the positive work that we can produce. The Creative Art Exhibition this year was much bigger and more inclusive than before, and gave those outside the prison walls the chance to see first-hand that there is creativity and enthusiasm to be found inside. Art in its many forms has inspired those in custody to express themselves and contribute to their rehabilitation.”

Inmates at HMP Dumfries with their exhibition work.

Captive Art 3 will continue to be on display in The Stove Café until 19th October.

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