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National Gallery to launch creative arts academy for young offenders

National Gallery joins forces with Feltham Young Offenders Institution

Issued: June 2009

The National Gallery is launching a new outreach programme encouraging young men detained in Feltham Young Offenders Institution to engage with the creative arts.

The programme, named 'Inside Art', will be undertaken by groups of 18–21 year-old men at the institution and will include sessions on sculpture, drawing, painting and gilding.

The workshops will take place in Feltham’s new on-site Art Academy, and it is hoped that the participating young men will benefit from their art practice.

The National Gallery is the first organisation to develop an arts programme at the Art Academy, a centre aiming to involve Feltham’s young adults in a wide range of creative arts activities. Participants will be asked to engage imaginatively with the visual arts and creative processes.

It is hoped that this will help enable the young men leaving custody to reintegrate back in to society by developing their confidence and self-esteem, improving their communication skills and general well-being, and encouraging a greater understanding of self and others.

The National Gallery intends to report on their findings in relation to these aims on an annual basis over the three-year period of the scheme. It is hoped that other projects – including those based around theatre, dance and music – could follow the National Gallery’s pilot project in the Art Academy.

National Gallery Head of Education, Colin Wiggins, said:

“The Gallery is always looking to develop and extend its programmes as we believe that everyone has the capacity to understand, enjoy and be stimulated by the great paintings in its collection – and we wish to help people who are not regular visitors to discover this for themselves. We hope that these exercises of the imagination can assist the young men at Feltham in a process of re-evaluating the consequences of their actions.”

Four National Gallery projects will take place at Feltham this year, each led by a different National Gallery artist. Artists will use high quality large-scale prints of selected paintings from the collection as a stimulus for discussion and inspiration for the young men’s own artwork. Ten men from Feltham are expected to take part in each project.

'Inside Art' will culminate with an exhibition of the young men’s work at the National Gallery in Spring 2010. The work will be shown prior to this in the Art Academy.

The decision to open the Art Academy – previously a disused outbuilding – at Feltham is part of the Prison Service’s approach to reducing re-offending.

The Academy will be used to develop and improve the link between custody and the community, helping young people re-integrate into society by gaining qualifications and developing personal and social skills.

The various programmes being developed will offer those involved the opportunity to tackle the major obstacles that preclude offenders from living a life free of crime. This will occur in conjunction with existing programmes already available in the establishment such as anger management, which provides young people in custody with skills to better manage their emotions.

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

For more information contact Nicola Jeffs at the National Gallery: 0207 747 2532/

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 outreach 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 the National Gallery

The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of Western European paintings from the late thirteenth to the early twentieth century. No other collection possesses such consistent quality, nor better tells the story of Western European painting.

The collection belongs to the nation and serves a diverse public from the UK and overseas. It is open to all, 361 days of the year, free of charge. Between 4 and 5 million people visit the National Gallery each year. Almost all of the 2,300 paintings in the National Gallery’s collection are on permanent display.

The collection represents the greatest Western European painters including van Eyck, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Turner, Rembrandt, Degas, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Rubens, Velázquez, Van Dyck, Titian and Bellini. The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance the collection, care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors.

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