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Dear Editor: Please Prime Minister, include prisoners’ art in Independence art exhibition

“[…] I saw recently,  via our local news media, the paintings done by some of our prisoners, and I was, indeed, very impressed by what I saw. 

“[…] The display of the paintings done by our prisoners at the Independence art exhibition would go a long way towards  giving effect to the concept of restorative justice by providing  a forum for the paintings  of the prisoners  to be sold and, thereby, provide much needed financial support to their families…”

The following Letter to the Editor, which suggests the inclusion of paintings done by local prisons in a proposed Independence Day art exhibition, was submitted to Wired868 by Louis W Williams of Maraj Trace, Freeman Road, St Augustine:

Photo: A Prison Inmates Art Exhibition in 2016.
(Copyright Trinidad Newsday)

In his recent news briefing, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley indicated that as a part of the celebrations to commemorate  our nation’s 60th Independence Anniversary, there will be an art exhibition. I support that decision.

However, I am of the firm view that the art exhibition provides a golden opportunity for the artwork done by some of our very talented prisoners to be put on display for public viewing and purchase by local, regional and international audiences/investors.

I saw recently,  via our local news media, the paintings done by some of our prisoners, and I was, indeed, very impressed by what I saw. 

It brought joy to my heart. However, my pleasure was tinged with sadness as I reflected on the fact that these artists got into trouble with the law despite their obvious talent which could have permitted them to live very comfortably, from a financial point of view. 

Photo: Prime minister Dr Keith Rowley (left) and his wife Sharon Rowley (centre) observe the Independence Day Parade on 31 August 2018.
(Copyright Ministry of National Security)

Evidently, especially in the absence of proper guidance, talent can be upended by negative lifestyle  choices.

The display of the paintings done by our prisoners at the Independence art exhibition would go a long way towards  giving effect to the concept of restorative justice by providing  a forum for the paintings  of the prisoners  to be sold and, thereby, provide much needed financial support to their families.

Entrepreneurs who have a special interest in the purchase and sale of artwork are usually on the prowl for new and emerging talent, and rarely miss the opportunity to scrutinise what is available at such art exhibitions. As a consequence, some of the prisoners may be able to secure lucrative contracts from such officials, and permanent,  well-paying jobs immediately  upon their release from prison.

The relevant authorities should ensure that the art exhibition receives widespread  coverage via YouTube, and other social media platforms. Mainstream media should also be involved in this regard.

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