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Young offenders take part in Tate Liverpool Exhibition

Using words and icons to help express what family means to them, artwork created by children from HMYOI Parc has been exhibited at the iconic Tate Liverpool. 
YP Parc exhibition at Tate Liverpool

Inspired by the works of British contemporary artist Bob and Roberta Smith, youngsters from the Welsh site and other youth justice establishments were invited to respond to a brief centred around the theme of ‘family’, as part of an innovative youth enrichment and engagement project that uses art as a space to help support children maintain and build family relationships whilst in custody.

“To be exhibited at the Tate is huge and it was such a humbling experience -we don’t get opportunities like these very often and it shows the boys that just because they are behind bars they are not as stupid or as useless as the world thinks they are or they have been told. 

“The exhibition really showed the best of our kids and it was lovely to meet some of their families who were so proud of what their children have achieved,” explained Parc’s Art Teacher, Sara Thomas.

“I’ve had pupils who never wanted to pick up a pencil yet have gone on to do AS levels and one student even went on to win a university scholarship as a result of his Koestler Awards submission. Art often gives them confidence to develop in other areas and we have seen students going into construction, design, interior, architecture, photography, painting and decorating industries.”
This has been such a great opportunity for the children we look after at Parc to showcase the immense artistic talent that they have.
Ian Coles, Interim director at HMP & YOI Parc
Sara helped learners develop their ideas into final submissions, using a range of artistic techniques before she attended a special celebratory event that gave families an opportunity to view their loved ones' artwork firsthand, and take part in a host of creative activities held at the Tate Liverpool museum and gallery.

“All fourteen learners who submitted work were selected for the final exhibition but what has been really lovely to see is that even those boys who didn’t take part still helped in other supportive roles,” she added.

“I haven’t done art since I was in Year 5 in school, but I’ve really enjoyed it since being in Parc,” recalled one young learner. 

“My dad went to see the exhibition in Liverpool and he was so proud. He’s never seen any of my work before and he couldn’t believe it was mine at first.”

Led by Tate Liverpool and Novus in collaboration with fellow education providers G4S and Shaw Trust, the project culminated in an online exhibition hosted on the Novus website with photos and videos shared among the children who took part from other sites; HMYOI Cookham Wood, HMYOI Feltham, HMYOI Werrington, HMYOI Wetherby and Oakhill STC.

Ian Coles, Interim Director HMP & YOI Parc said: "This has been such a great opportunity for the children we look after at Parc to showcase the immense artistic talent that they have. We are incredibly proud of the work that is being showcased and we consistently see the benefits that the arts can bring in engaging young people and helping them to build self-belief, self-confidence and a positive identity.”