Last Friday 18 October saw the opening of the latest Hunt Museum exhibition Open Minds, with talks from a variety of very knowledgeable speakers.
Open Minds @ The Hunt Museum gives people of the West of Ireland a chance to see an exhibition that started in Rua Red in Tallaght. It is curated by Brian Maguire, the well-known Irish artist who has worked with every prison in the country over a number of decades and has been a staunch advocate for art education in prisons. The Irish Prison Service chose him because of his understanding of the issues around incarceration, and the huge amount of work he has done with people in custody.
The artwork selected by Maguire for the exhibition is anonymous. Those who view it won’t know anything about the crimes perpetrated by the person who created it, which is part of the point. The art is put on public display as a kind of evidence that those who go behind bars have not disappeared from society completely. Open Minds wants to challenge people to “see beyond the person who has been convicted.”
After visiting Prison Education Centres to select the exhibition, Maguire observed that “the conditions of the studio - isolation - are the conditions of the cell. Communication through art - a solitary action - is also possible in jail. Art which reinforces the inner world has a particular place in this world of stone and timelessness. It was a pleasure and privilege to visit these institutions, over a two week period and meet so many prisoners whose work is now shown in this exhibition.”
The work that is exhibited in the Hunt Museum is very relevant to the people of Limerick and the surrounding areas. It includes a work from Limerick Prison, but also a piece contributed by two local boys, who work at Limerick City Build. Gearoid and Devlin Hayes are rightly proud of their work having been chosen for a show of this incredibly high artistic quality.
Jill Cousins, Director & CEO of the Hunt Museum said: “It shows what access to education can open up. The creativity and expression is stunning. It makes me hopeful about society, and shows us why chances need to be given to everyone, repeatedly. I am reminded of an Albert Einstein quote 'The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size'.”
The creative arts form an important part of the education programmes provided by ETB teachers in Prison Education Centres. Teachers use a variety of art forms to enable their students to engage in creating new works and the biennial exhibition provides a showcase of a selection of these works. The exhibition also hosts works created by ex-offenders in Post Release Centres, supported by the Probation Service.
The exhibition runs from 19 October until 24 November at The Hunt Museum in Limerick.