The delivery of culturally based art initiatives at Clarence Correctional Centre (CLA) have supported Dunghutti/Bundgalung man Wes* to win the prestigious Clarence Valley Indigenous Art Award (CVIAA) at Grafton Regional Gallery.
Open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists who reside in the Clarence Valley, the CVIAA supports contemporary Indigenous art of the region. With the support of local Aboriginal Elders, Clarence Valley Council, and Corrective Services NSW, Serco proudly entered 21 inmate works into the award.
Manager Inmate Services Cherie Goodwin who accepted the award on Wes’s behalf has seen first-hand the difference a sense of connection to community through creative and culture-based programs can make to the success of an inmate’s rehabilitation and reintegration.
“Our staff have worked with Corrective Services NSW to develop a series of creative and culture-based programs to innovatively address an individual’s rehabilitation needs. Pride, sense of personal value and linkage to culture are all foundation activities that can be enhanced through art,” Ms Goodwin said.
“The model that we have implemented at Clarence Correctional Centre acknowledges the importance of delivering a wide range of rehabilitation experiences, including interventions through art, music, drama, health, well-being and culturally-based programs within a correctional environment.”
CLA’s involvement in the Grafton Regional Gallery art competition enabled inmates at the centre to demonstrate their skills and capacity to enrich this prestigious exhibition and give back to the community.
Wes’s winning piece focuses on places and people that tell the story of his childhood, his family and his country. Water animals and spirits feature predominately in his work with ‘Yabbies Dreaming’ telling the story of the memories that he had as a child.
“We were taught to paint what we saw,” Wes said.
“Growing up I was always yabbie dreaming. Others who have experienced this, will see this painting and will know what it is about and where it is from.”
Grafton Regional Gallery Director Niomi Sands was excited to announce that the 2021 CVIAA Open Acquisitive Prize was awarded to Wes for his outstanding work ‘Yabbies Dreaming’ inspired by childhood experiences with his family.
“This year’s CVIAA has been the strongest yet, with a wonderful selection of artworks celebrating the creative talent of First Nations Artists who live within the Clarence Valley,” Ms Sands said.
Clarence Correctional Centre is a partnership including Serco, CSNSW and NorthernPathways.
*Not his real name.
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