Written by Jane 

It’s ironic really but when I was in prison in India I found the freedom to be creative.

In the long wait between trial dates (that sometimes stretched to months), there was very little else to do except to draw, paint, sew and write. I even learnt how to crochet. They were artistic pursuits that I had always wanted to do but never had the time when I was free. Getting up each day and throwing myself into some sort of creative activity took me away from the chaos around me. It helped me make friends; I joined the crochet circle, I sketched the ladies in my cell and made birthday and valentines cards for them to send to their loved ones. I spent whole days meditating over the changing colours of a picture I was painting. I travelled in my mind to faraway places and happier times when I wrote a story. Even scribbling my angst and anger onto a piece of paper helped me make sense of my situation and sometimes just knowing that I was in the middle of making something was the only incentive that got me out of bed in the mornings. In short doing something creative when the rest of my life had become so unproductive kept me going.

Now I have returned to England and I am very proud to say that I am one of the hosts at the Koestler Arts annual exhibition of art from people in prison and held at the prestigious Southbank Centre in London. It is the culmination of their annual awards scheme and is an amazing, thought provoking and talented collection of all forms of artistic expression from people who have found freedom through their creative endeavours even though their bodies have been chained.

This year there is one exhibit by a prisoner abroad, ‘Chained’ a sculpture in soap and I always show this piece to my tour groups and talk to them about it and about prisons overseas.

Next year it would be fantastic to have many more pieces of work from Prisoners Abroad in the exhibition and I ask you to ‘Unlock the talent inside’. It is what Koestler Arts is all about.

Free your mind when your body cannot move. Find a voice when you have been silenced. Gain liberty through creativity.