Mirrors: Prison Portraits
5 November 2010 - 27 March 2011
Scottish National Gallery - IT Gallery

The self-portrait is a powerful mechanism for exploring one’s personal life and is a powerful means of self-understanding. It has been used for centuries by artists and others to explore their innermost feelings and motivations.

The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) Outreach Team has been working to help promote positive change in offenders by producing a programme of workshops across five Scottish prisons.

Inspired by portraits in the national art collection each project has been developed by the lead artists, NGS Outreach Team, Scottish Prison Service, and Motherwell College staff from that particular prison’s Learning Centre to the suit the prison’s specific category of prisoner.

Part of the Scottish Arts Council Inspiring Change project, led by Motherwell College, Mirrors: Prison Portraits displays the dramatic and thought-provoking results of this process of self-investigation engaged in by participants, and proves the value of visual art in rehabilitating offenders.

Mirrors: Prison Portraits has been developed specifically to support the delivery of the following offender outcomes:

  • improved physical and mental wellbeing
  • improved literacy, communication and social skills
  • improved relationships with families, peers and communities
  • increased understanding of the impact of offending on victims and on the prisoners’ own families

In addition the project aims to increase access to the National Art Collection as part of the National Galleries’ wider programme of Outreach projects which develops partnerships and creative collaborations between artists, communities and agencies throughout Scotland.

The portrait-based artworks created on the project are being displayed in all the prisons involved and in the Scottish National Gallery from 4 November 2010 to 27 February 2011.

This is an Inspire project and has been part-funded and supported by the National Lottery through the Scottish Arts Council and partner organisations.