Exhibition connects Lewes prisoners and their families through art

The 'Connections' exhibition is at Lewes Town Hall
The 'Connections' exhibition is at Lewes Town Hall

The power of art to break down barriers during a prison sentence is featured in an exhibition currently running at Lewes Town Hall.

‘Connections’ displays artwork by both prisoners at HMP Lewes and their families that explores what is lost and what can be formed during a prison sentence.

The public exhibition, supported by the Mayor of Lewes, opened at the venue this week and continues from Monday, April 8, until April 12.

The artwork features paintings, drawings, origami, handprints, illustrations and poetry. All exhibits are the work of inmates at the prison and different generations of their families.

Some of the artwork will be sold to help raise funds to develop a sensory garden at the Lewes prison visitors’ centre, run by Spurgeons Children’s Charity and supported by Sussex Prisoners’ Families. Visitors to the exhibition will also be invited to donate.

“Prisoners really feel their separation from the outside world and often believe they’ve been written off by society,” said Spurgeons Family Services Manager Sam Hart, who runs the visitor service at HMP Lewes.

“But it isn’t just prisoners who are affected; families also experience loss and longing when someone they love is sent to prison, often being left to fend for themselves.

“This exciting exhibition shows how art and the creative process can help those from both sides of the prison barriers find their way through a challenging experience, sometimes even saving lives.”

Denis Byrne, Director of Sussex Prisoners’ Families, said: “Families are often forgotten in the criminal justice system yet have to battle with a range of practical and emotional difficulties. We are pleased that this exhibition recognises that loss and gives this often silenced group a voice.”

Councillor Janet Baah, Mayor of Lewes, said: “As one of my chosen Mayoral charities, this work is very important to me. It is vital that families with a loved one in prison are given our care, compassion and practical help.”