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Former Prisoner at HMP Send talks about the Art For All Learning programme and the positive impact on her life

Posted 6th December 2011
Watts Contemporary Gallery

"I would like to tell you about how Watts Gallery has changed my life. First of all I was brought up in care and I left school at 14 years with no education except very basic skills. When I came to prison had never drawn or painted in my life, matchstick men really were my limit! To first learn how to draw and then learn how to use paint was such a joy to me, I felt I had discovered the eighth wonder of the world.

It really does something to your soul and confidence to paint a picture, also you can draw and paint things in a picture that you can’t talk about but can express in a painting. I feel very grateful to you all for the hard work and funding you do to make this possible. I have secured a place a Brighton University to do a foundation course in art and will continue to further my art and thank you for making this possible – you’ve changed my life.

A young girl called Maxine got a life sentence at 17. Some would say, she committed the crime – why should we care? But it’s about changing her life around and giving her confidence to rejoin society as a law-abiding and whole person. From some of her paintings you can see the sort of childhood she had, and see how she has flourished. To know people care and the kindness of strangers, it gives youhope. You can never underestimate the power of Art."