Soft Touch Arts is collaborating on a three-year research project with Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT), De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and Nottingham Trent University (NTU) into the positive impact of art on the rehabilitation and mental wellbeing of prisoners. The work focuses on the CHIME (Connectedness, Hope, Identity, Meaningfulness, Empowerment) model of recovery. The CHIME method has not previously been focused around the arts, nor considered in the criminal justice context.
More than 200 men serving sentences at HMP Leicester and HMP Stocken, as well as those on probation, have engaged in the project so far.
An exhibition of artwork from prisoners across the Midlands, including paintings, drawings, mixed media and sculpture, will be held in Leicester. UNLOCKED – an exhibition created by offenders at HMP Leicester, HMP Stocken and the probation services – will invite art gallery visitors to step inside the world of a prison. The installation will recreate a cell from the Rutland prison using interiors including a bed, toilet, mirror, desk, chair, television and personalised sundries such as toiletries. The installation will cocoon visitors in the sounds of a prison wing via an audio background recorded at HMP Leicester.
Based on previous pilot projects, UNLOCKED aims to evidence the efficacy of the arts methodology through an academic study in partnership with Dr Victoria Knight, Senior Research Fellow, Community and Criminal Justice at De Montfort University and Benedict Carpenter van Barthold, Principal Lecturer in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University.
The exhibition will be split between two galleries, the New Walk Museum and Gallery and the Soft Touch Arts Young People’s Arts and Heritage Centre, and will take place between 7 and 29 March.
It has been made possible with funding from Arts Council England, the Leicestershire police and crime commissioner, DMU Local, The Gordon Trust and the Noel Buxton Trust.