Inside Art: creative responses to the collection by young offenders

Issued: January 2010

Learning Gallery 
8 February – 25 April 2010
Admission free

The National Gallery is to show an exhibition of artwork made by young men detained in Feltham Young Offenders Institution.

The 55 works in this show – which include paintings, prints, sculptures, drawings and collages – were produced during the first year of a National Gallery outreach programme named Inside Art, which was undertaken by groups of 18 to 21 year-old men at Feltham.

The National Gallery is the first organisation to develop a visual arts programme at Feltham’s Art Academy: a centre providing a wide range of creative and performing arts courses, which aim to encourage rehabilitation and develop communication skills in preparation for release. The Art Academy is part of the Prison Service’s approach to reducing reoffending, helping young people re-integrate into society by gaining qualifications and developing personal and social skills.

Inside Art is delivered by freelance artists who work for the National Gallery. The first annual series of four practical art projects concluded in September 2009. The National Gallery’s collection is the starting point for all projects, and the artists used high quality large-scale prints of selected paintings as a stimulus for discussion and to inspire the young men’s own artwork.

During the year, 36 young men completed a project. Those who attended had either been sentenced or were on remand and awaiting trial, and were therefore often in situations of stress and uncertainty. It was found that engaging with art offered many participants different ways of expressing themselves as well as new confidence and skills.

The young men experimented with a range of specialist techniques – including sculpture, printmaking, painting and gilding – to create their artworks.

Participants’ responses to Inside Art are also included in the exhibition. They illustrate that talking about paintings and creating art helped the young men to enjoy developing their knowledge and skills, to use their imagination and gain a better understanding of themselves and other people – all of which can help to reduce the risk of reoffending.

National Gallery Outreach Officer, Emma Rehm, said:

“Inside Art aims to engage young offenders in responding to the Gallery’s collection of Western European paintings, and to inspire them to explore their creativity and develop their practical and communication skills. The paintings in the Gallery belong to the nation and this programme is one way of ensuring access to the collection for a wider audience.”

Inside Art has been funded by The LankellyChase Foundation for three years, from 2009 to 2011. During this period the National Gallery will run four projects per year at Feltham Young Offenders Institution.

For press information contact Nicola Jeffs: / 0207 747 2532
For public information visit

Dates and opening hours
Open to public: 8 February – 25 April 2010
Daily 10am–6pm, Friday until 9pm
Last admission 5.15pm (8.15pm Friday)


Publicity images for Inside Art can be obtained from
To obtain a username please contact the National Gallery Press Office on 020 7747 2865 or email
For public information, please quote 020 7747 2885 or
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN

Responses from Inside Art participants who took part in ‘Tracing Faces’, July 2009

  • “I enjoyed painting and using other artists’ techniques to create a modern piece of work.” 
  • “It has shown me I could be an artist with time and dedication. Projects like this should be more than a week.” 
  • “It was what I expected and more. I enjoyed using colours to express mood and feeling in a portrait.”
  • “Because I like art, I wouldn’t mind taking an art course.”
  • “It was very educational and good for me. I enjoyed the most the things I learnt, the help I received and the work I did.”
  • “It helped me to be more calm and showed me other ways of expressing myself.” 
  • “I enjoyed most group discussion and painting.” 
  • “I’d expected to look at other artists and not paint myself.” 
  • “I wanted to see my art potential.”
  • “I wanted something for the future.”
  • “I wanted a new experience plus a different understanding of the art world.”

The National Gallery’s Outreach Programme

As part of its wider strategic objective to provide access to the collection, the National Gallery is committed to finding imaginative and illuminating ways to nurture interest in its collection among a wide and diverse public.

The Gallery’s outreach programme plays an intrinsic role in delivering this objective. The projects targeted at key community groups are designed to creatively engage audiences who may encounter physical, emotional and intellectual barriers to accessing the collection through other provision.

By offering a range of interactive outreach projects, the Gallery seeks to ensure that people who may have traditionally felt excluded are encouraged to experience and respond to the National Gallery’s collection.

Through its outreach programmes the Gallery has developed partnerships with both London-based and regional community groups, and broadly aims to support social and cultural inclusion for people of all ages from a diverse range of social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

All projects take as their starting point close observation and discussion of focus paintings from the National Gallery’s collection. The scope and theme of each project is tailored to the specific needs and interests of each participant group.

Projects are delivered by freelance artists and lecturers, and workshops take place either in the Gallery or at a range of off-site venues. These projects provide opportunities for participants to build knowledge, learn new practical and interpersonal skills, develop confidence and explore their own creativity.

The National Gallery is committed to maintaining and developing sustainable outreach programmes as we believe that everyone – regardless of age or background – is entitled to experience, enjoy and be inspired by the paintings in the collection.

About Feltham Young Offenders Institution

HMP & YOI Feltham is a juvenile prison and young offenders institution for young men aged 15 to 21.