Us beside

Thoughts from the inside

08/11 - 26/11 2017

Annica Wiegert started working as a supply teacher at Lärcentrum, which works as a distance learning centre for adults at the local prison in Kalmar. There was a desire among the inmates to be allowed to express themselves through some form of creative work, and it was also something the prison directors had had in mind and wished to implement.After a few weeks, a small group started to make bracelets, draw, paint and sew in a small room next to the study room. The group grew and the previously bare walls were filled with colourful images.

During ten weeks, the group has been constructing masks in papier-mâché with a body made from chicken wire. The masks symbolise the inmates themselves. The idea for this came from an exercise where the group got to draw self-portraits as they saw themselves there and then.

None of the group members had any previous experience of working in this way. Some had never even heard of papier-mâché and so a process started to get basic knowledge about what one can make and what the group wanted to achieve. The group talked both about the technical method and about what they wished to convey, for example how shapes and colour can be interpreted and their significance for how a piece of art is perceived. The group started off by sketching out their ideas for the masks that were then built and painted.

The process with the masks has triggered conversations about identity, community and how one experiences one’s existence.

Already at an early stage, the question was raised about what would happen to the masks once they were finished. This sparked the idea about an exhibition at Kalmar konstmuseum. It is an opportunity for the inmates to express something about their existence at the prison to the public, something they have achieved and made a success.