In February, at Tate Liverpool we showcased our Family Ties exhibition. This exhibition was the end point of this year’s programme, that was designed to support Novus learners to develop and maintain stronger ties with their families whilst in prison and provide the opportunity for them to engage with our education offer.
Community artists from the Tate used the 2022 Turner Prize Exhibition as a starting point, learners then responded and explored a range of creative techniques.
The sessions took place in seven different prisons across the Northwest and North Wales, from October 2022 to January 2023, with learners engaged in a weeklong block of in-person sessions. Artists from the Tate came in to run sessions that engaged prisoners in creative activities, followed by a family day in the prison, where the learners led their loved ones through a range of creative learning opportunities.
The project supported family ties; the learning created time to consider loved ones needs and interests. It created positive conversations on calls and visits and the family days gave the prisoners a feeling of empowerment as they led activities with their loved ones in a meaningful way.
Work from all sites was showcased at Tate Liverpool 11- 19 February 2023, celebrating achievement, as well as creating a space to increase awareness of prison education and family impact. Families were able to visit the exhibition and feel a sense of pride that the work they created was on display for visitors to the gallery to view.
Feedback on the family learning exhibition:
Shaun Curtis, Head of Learning, Tate Liverpool
Tate’s work with Novus is of great value in that it creates a closer relationship between art, learning, and a broader social value. What makes it exceptional is the platform it offers to those with no access to the work of museums and galleries, empowering them to have truly transformational experiences with our collections and participatory arts practices.
Mike Shaughnessy, Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design and Illustration, Liverpool John Moore’s University:
"I loved this collaboration.
The artefacts were really convincing.
The drawings and brief notes embedded in the work, resonate far beyond
the Tate walls, they bring into focus the lives and experiences of the families.
That space between Tate and the prison walls.
The children's drawings always stay with you."
Sarah Hartley, National Lead for Creative Strategies, Novus:
"Arts in prison can be underestimated, often seen as an extra, but they are a crucial part of a rehabilitative culture. Arts and Enrichment activities provide the space for a broad spectrum of engagement to take place, which is valuable as it offers the opportunity for positive engagement in a number of ways. This project demonstrates one example of using arts to provide new opportunities, not only for our learners but their families. The project gave learners and their families the chance to engage, whilst also supporting family ties. Engagement has been excellent and feedback positive."
Feedback from learners and family members
Feedback from a learner:
The programme is something different from what I’ve experienced before. It shows other people that it’s possible to achieve things by being determined and focussing on a task. I enjoyed following a guide but at the same time being allowed to be creative with only a few materials. Working in a group to produce art together, rather than on my own, helped me to learn how to talk and work with other people, which will help me when I leave prison.
Feedback from family members:
“It’s lovely that he’s been able to be involved in something like this, the girls love being creative so it’s something he can share with them.” Same person also said, “When the work is in the Tate Gallery, we’d love to go and see it – the girls will enjoy that and can tell their daddy about it”.
"Thank you so much! We loved the freedom of being able to sit like a normal family, doing things together like a normal family. The art activities were great and fun, and we really appreciated the free food, it was very welcome."
" I liked how I could have proper human interaction with my Dad, we spent time making together and that was good "
“The best part of the afternoon was spending time together, the children had lots of fun art activities to keep them occupied and express themselves. It was great to do this together.”
It really is fantastic to see what a difference projects like these make to the future outcomes of our learners. You can read more about our arts and enrichment strategy here. If you would like to work with us, please get in touch.