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Inside View

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Friday 08 November 2013

A national award winning photography exhibition by the prisoners at Guernsey Prison.

We are pleased to announce the opening of a unique photography exhibition created by the prisoners from Guernsey Prison.

Date: Thursday 28 November 2013
Private opening at 12:00
Venue:
Guernsey Prison Visitors Centre
Les Nicolles
St Sampsons
Guernsey GY2 4YF
Tel: 01481 248 376

The exhibition will also be open to the general public inside the new Gatehouse Gallery at Elizabeth College from March 2014.

Date: Thursday 20 March to Friday 4 April 2014.
Private View: Thursday 20 March 2014
Venue:
Gatehouse Gallery
Elizabeth College
The Grange
St Peter Port
Guernsey GY1 2PY
Tel: 01481 722 123
Contact: Adam Stephens, Head of the Creative Arts Faculty

Inside view is an ongoing project created and run by photographer Jean-Christophe Godet whose objective was to offer prisoners at Guernsey prison an opportunity to learn about social documentary photography as a means of self expression, communication and self development. It is delivered with the assistance of Wendy Meade who is a member on the Independent Monitoring Panel.

Recently the project has been awarded the William Archer Platinum Award for photography. This is the highest award from the annual national competition organised by the Koestler Trust, which attracts more than 5,000 entries from offenders across the UK. The Trust promotes the arts in special institutions, encouraging creativity and the acquisition of new skills as a means to rehabilitation.

The Project started at the end of 2010 with workshops taking place each week over six months. A group of prisoners signed up and were given access to equipment, provided by the photographers, and facilitated modules specifically designed to give the participants not only the necessary technical knowledge but also an understanding of social photo documentary.

Since its inception the course has been very popular amongst prisoners. This exhibition is the result of the third series of workshops.

On top of learning technical skills, the group has regular discussions about the importance of objectivity and integrity in creating a documentary that have assisted decisions on what should be included in the exhibition.

From around 2,000 images, the group has selected 40 pictures for this exhibition.

Prisoners often feel that the public get a skewed version of life inside and we all agreed that this would be a good opportunity to record places, faces and activities in the daily running of the prison.

Grateful thanks go to the Governor, Officers and staff of the prison who have given time and effort to include unusual access whilst maintaining high standards of security at all times. We are indebted to Officers Dave White and Belinda Help for all their support and assistance to bring this project to fruition. Thanks too to those prisoners who were willing to be photographed and particularly those who posed patiently for the many equally excellent unpublished photos.

Creativity in captivity

We believe that creative activities can help prisoners to raise their levels of motivation, aspiration and self esteem. The project is designed to help the participants acquire new technical and social skills, a sense of responsibility, a better understanding of themselves and a greater awareness of the environment in which they live in. It also helps to develop a creative attitude, and a sense of achievement.

David Matthews, Guernsey Prison Governor said:

"I am delighted that this exhibition has now come to fruition and the results of this work can be displayed for everyone to see. It is important that prisoners can learn technical and life skills whilst in custody, these new skills can help in reducing offending behaviour and aid resettlement.. There is a marked difference in behaviour and attitude when prisoners are exposed to these types of activities.

I also very pleased that the project has received national recognition through the Koestler Trust. This is clear endorsement of the efforts put in by the prisoners, tutors and staff at the prison."

Jean-Christophe Godet, Director of the Guernsey Photography Festival and founder of 'Inside View' said:

"Photography can play an important role in the development of an individual. The way we look at the things around us can have an effect on the way we look at ourselves. The purpose of this project is not to offer prisoners a hobby whilst in prison, it is about taking responsibility, making commitment, working as a team and overall developing a sense of self-esteem while respecting the community you live in. The prisoners involved have achieved a lot over the last 6 months. My aim was to produce something of the highest quality, although none of the participants had any experience in photography before starting this course. This unique exhibition has met, and exceeded, all of my expectations and I can only congratulate all of them for the thoughtful and honest insights into their lives inside a detention centre."

Quotes from prisoners

After producing the first raft of images for a proposed exhibition, prisoners were asked what the photography course had meant to them.

"I had no hope for my future and now I am looking at stuff differently. Things look different; I notice new things by imagining I was going to photograph them. A boring old door in my cell suddenly became interesting. I felt I had a new set of eyes. Even people looked different to me. It definitely has made me more observant. I am so glad Chris and Wendy are doing this course. I want it to last forever."

"I found it was very interesting, informative and it has definitely inspired me. When I get out of here I definitely want to get a camera. No, I won't steal one!"

"I have always been an artist and have loved drawing and painting, but this is another outlet for my art. I want to record my family events and do portraits. It will definitely be my hobby. I hope I will have time when I get out."

"The thing I can't get my head round is that these teachers trust us. They respect us and give us well expensive kit to hold and to use. The cameras belong to them and it feels good to be given the responsibility to be trusted with their precious cameras. I will always have the camera round my neck, I will teach my children to look after their things and to respect kit"

"I like it when this gives us a chance to show the outside that we don't live in a 5* hotel. We are told when to eat, when to exercise, and we see doors but can't open them. I think that our pictures have captured the essence of what it is to lose your freedom. That's why our photos are so good"

"The teachers talk to us like human beings. They remind us that we are normal. I think too that it has helped us work as a team. We help each other out. We never have enough cameras but no one argues and that is rare. The guys who know more help the ones who don't know so much. There is such a good feeling. I look forward to our meetings a lot."

Contact information

Jean-Christophe Godet
Tel: 07911 741962
Email: jchristophe@guernseyphotographyfestival.com  

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