Hundreds of inmates display artwork at national gallery

Some one thousand inmates displayed a variety of artwork showcasing their creativity and skills in an annual exhibition at the national art gallery today.

Nimal Ibrahim, who won first place for his painting, said: “This is a great opportunity to showcase our potential and be a part of the society.”

Ibrahim’s painting depicted a man in a suit holding a scale jeering at four people, one of whom carried the Maldives flag.

The three-day exhibition organised by the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) is open to the public and will continue till Saturday night.

Inmates from the Maafushi and Asseyri jails exhibited over 850 paintings and hundreds of handicrafts and furniture today. Plants grown by inmates in an agricultural training session were also on display.

Hundreds of inmates were present at today’s exhibition, accompanied by security guards.

Several paintings depicted interrogation rooms and courtrooms, demonstrating the trials inmates go through in the Maldives criminal justice system.

A member of the organising team, corporal Abdulla Ameen, said inmates had worked on their artworks over the last year.

“There are about 500 inmates who have participated every year since this exhibition began in 2011,” he said.

Winners are given a prize of MVR500 (US$32). Members of the public can purchase any artwork and proceedings are to go to the correction centre’s cooperative society.

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Mohamed Shifag, who made a large wooden sail boat, said inmates worked on their artworks for a few hours every day.

“I learned how to do craft work from the courses we are taught,” he said.

In addition to art classes, inmates are also given classes in agriculture and religion.

“We receive help from the authorities for the courses we hold, and inmates are always looking for such opportunities,” said superintendent of jails, Mohamed Asif.

Inmates are selected for the courses based on their discipline.

The exhibition will be open from 2-6pm in the afternoon and from 8-10pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.