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Novus learner artwork project with Tate Liverpool brings families closer together

The families of learners who engaged with the Tate Family Learning Programme at HMP Liverpool and HMP Altcourse enjoyed a Family Learning Day at Tate Liverpool last month.

The day for families at Tate Liverpool came as part of a project which has used art as a way to aid rehabilitation of offenders by re-establishing close links with their family.

Classes in the establishments were led by a professional artist, who worked with learners alongside their family to produce art inspired by ‘Op Art’, which uses geometric forms to create optical effects.

Professional artist and instructor Denise, who worked with the offenders on the programme, hosted the families at the gallery. During the visit they built on work started in the establishments and also received a guided tour of the Op Art displays within the gallery.

The work produced on the programme is set to be showcased in a large public display of Novus learner artwork at Tate Liverpool. The display will run from Tuesday 27 November until Sunday 9 December, and will feature Op Art inspired contributions from Novus learners across the country.

Novus family learning events have been successful in showcasing learning, but also in providing an opportunity to undertake educational activities together as a family.

The spouse of one Novus learner said: "We did the August Tate family session and it was great - my husband applied to be part of it as our daughter is doing GCSE Art and he thought she'd like it. I think the whole concept is positive.

My daughter enjoyed looking at the Op Art exhibition with Denise and she took photos on her phone to share with her dad. Thank you, we will be back in November to see the whole Novus showcase.

A review into the importance of strengthening prisoners' family ties to prevent re-offending and reduce intergenerational crime, published by the Ministry of Justice in 2017, provides the view that supportive relationships with family members can provide meaning and motivation towards rehabilitation.

Novus believe that art can be a positive vehicle for families, helping to break down barriers and reduce stigma. Art is regularly used in Novus classrooms to deliver educational activities thanks to the inclusivity that it encourages, and its ability to provide a safe space.

The display of Op Art in November will be the second held by Novus in collaboration with Tate Liverpool. The first, in December 2017, attracted visitors and support from across the North West

Sarah Hartley, Novus Operational Lead for Families, said: “Families and learners who have engaged in this project have done so voluntarily. By bringing families in we hope to give offenders that extra motivation which will really help them turn their life around and begin making a positive change in their life.

“We are already seeing families reconnect and find common interests through their shared artistic experience. These behaviours are becoming embedded to the extent that we have had younger family members sign up as part of the Tate Collective.”

The artwork produced by learners at HMP Liverpool and HMP Altcourse will form a key part of the Novus display at Tate Liverpool, which will be open to the public from Tuesday 27 November until Sunday 9 December 2018.

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