Long Bay Gaol arts program explodes after COVID-19 pandemic


Interest in the work of the ‘Boom Gate Gallery’ has grown after surging post-pandemic. Photo: supplied.

By SASHA FOOT

A website and social media launch has made a ‘huge difference’ in raising public awareness of the Long Bay Gaol art gallery scheme, which the NSW government says has helped inmates from Matraville “to stop committing crimes and lead a productive life”.

The Boom Gate Gallery, which exhibits artwork created by inmates of the correctional facility, provides 75% of artwork profits to artists as a source of income.

Co-curator Damian Moss said city ​​hub that launching a website during the pandemic has contributed to the gallery’s success, with half of artwork sales coming from their website or Instagram account.

“We’ve had a lot of inmates turn their lives around by making art,” he said. “It helps them build their self-esteem, self-esteem and confidence.

“The most positive thing inmates can do is engage in creative activity while they’re inside.”

Aboriginal inmates create approximately three-quarters of the art presented by the gallery.

“[Indigenous art] is incredibly popular with all of our visitors, including our foreign visitors. If they want to buy art, they want something unique to Australia.

Inside of easeart helps connect Aboriginal inmates to their culture.

“Many of the inmates expressed that they learned and connected more with their culture than they had before in their lives,” Moss says.

The creation of Native art is often a collaborative process between multiple inmates who share materials and ideas to help each other when painting. Moss said he’s seen Native artists teaching “new or inexperienced inmates how to get started with paintings.”

“They all have a lot of hours to fill and making art is a repositive way to fill those hours.

Long Bay Jail

NSW Minister for Corrections Geoff Lee. Photo: New South Wales Parliament.

Long Bay Gaol arts program a great way to ‘earn a sense of pride’: NSW Corrections Minister

Back in 2019, the “In Trouble” gallery exposure focused on the mental health difficulties that arise from incarceration. Inmates wrote testimonials to accompany their work.

One of the artists, Toorakle, explained his journey of artistic practice.

“I met an Aboriginal colleague who helped me reconnect with my Aboriginal…[and] I learned to paint my Dreamtime,” he wrote.

NSW Corrections Minister Geoff Lee praised the gallery’s efforts.

“The Boom Gate Gallery project is a great way for inmates to gain a sense of pride knowing that their works will be seen by thousands of people,” he said.

Kayleen C. Rice