HMP Send

In isolation art is everything. I motivate to get myself to get up and start painting in the early morning. We are allowed 15 mins to make a phone call to family or legal calls, after a call, making art calms me down. Being part of Watts Gallery has enabled me to think of a future in art and continue doing what I've learnt to love, art and myself.

Art for All Community Learning Programme participant from HMP Send

Watts Gallery Trust has been working in a much-valued partnership between the closed female training prison HMP Send and the Michael Varah Memorial Fund (MVMF) since 2008, facilitating weekly creative studio time and an Artist Tutor to guide and teach the participants.

This year's highlights:

• A permanent exhibition of work to be installed in Guildford Probation Office.

• Creating work, planning and curating their own 'Our Time' Exhibition at HMP Send (postponed).

• Exhibiting in the annual 'New Beginnings' Exhibition at The Lightbox, organised by the Women's Support Centre, Woking. This encourages excluded, exploited and disempowered women across Surrey to explore their feelings and experiences through art and showcases their talent.

• Creating designs for annual MVMF Christmas cards and the 'Our Time' postcards and calendar.

• Designing and producing wrapping paper for the Limner collection, inspired by patterns found across Watts Gallery - Artists' Village.

I am so happy I signed up for the Watts art workshops. The timing couldn't have been better. I was struggling with my sentence and started to make unwise decisions in prison. I did A level Art but had not picked up a brush or pencil in 15 years. Watts Gallery has been an amazing journey, very cathartic. It has provided a positive outlook. The Workshops have pushed me out of my comfort zone and sown me that sometimes being patient results in better outcomes. For someone who is impulsive and impatient it's been a great lesson.

Art for All Community Learning Programme participant from HMP Send

I have been detailed to support the ladies in Watts Gallery weekly workshops for some time. The motivation that the ladies have creating their art is incredible and this is matched by the constant support of the Watts Gallery tutors. Personally, I find it very rewarding too and have learnt many art techniques and produced my own artwork as a result.

HMP Send Officer

For the women in HMP Send, being Watts Gallery Artists is their identity and they are proud and grateful to be part of this amazing opportunity. The women say that these sessions are a lifeline, time for them to create, explore and express themselves through their art. A calendar of exhibition opportunities motivates them: preparing for the 'Art for All' exhibition makes them connect with G F and Mary Watts' work and ethos. My job is to get the women to make their very best work. Part of the rehabilitation process is providing this group with the skills that they will need when they leave. Since Lockdown, teaching has been through workbooks I have researched and designed for the group. Without the support of the Michael Varah Memorial Fund and Watts Gallery – who have been taking these workbooks and materials to the prison – there would be no art. Art is what keeps these women motivated, positive and purposeful during these challenging times.

Sophie Artemis – Art for All Community Learning Programme artist at HMP Send since 2015