Journey into Light set to launch at Chester Cathedral

An exhibition of prisoner artwork will be launched at a special event at Chester Cathedral next week. The aim of the exhibition, titled Journey into Light, is to demonstrate to visitors that behind every prisoner’s conviction and sentence is a personal story of love, hope and loss.

The exhibition is made up of more than 50 individual pieces of art produced by prisoners from HMP Styal and HMP Thorn Cross, Cheshire. Following the launch event on Monday the 08 October, the exhibition will be on display to the public for the rest of the week before travelling to different locations around the Diocese of Chester.

Debbie Dalby, Director of Social Responsibility at the Diocese of Chester, says: “We want people to view the exhibition and leave with a greater sense of empathy and awareness of prisoner experience. There is life beyond prison and we want to celebrate renewal and restoration and the hope of a brighter, more optimistic future.

“By seeing the creativity of prisoners and hearing their stories, people will be able to better understand some of the choices, mistakes and circumstances that they have faced in their lives.”

The exhibition was in part inspired by the work of David Ashbrook who discovered an extraordinary gift for painting whilst serving a life sentence. He painted the signature artwork used for the exhibition.

On his release, David focused upon hope and renewal and was starting to share this message of love through his artwork when his life was tragically cut short in a car accident in 2008.

Theresa John is a former drug addict and convicted burglar who spent time in jail for her crimes. She will be sharing her experiences of prison life and the transformative power of art and faith at the launch event at Chester Cathedral.

She says a newly developed faith in God transformed her life: “I always had a sense that I was too bad for God. I came out of prison in 2012 and tried to do things on my own and I was back in prison the following year. I was introduced to a Christian recovery programme and noticed that God was drawing my attention. I decided to get baptised, but I was still using at the time. Through prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit, God has radically transformed my life. I thought there was no hope for me. Now I’ve completed a recovery programme, I’m clean and I know God loves me.”

The Diocese of Chester has been working with prison chaplains from HMS Styal and HMS Thorn Cross who have worked with the prisoners to produce the pieces of art. The exhibits differ in style from large acrylic paintings, abstract landscapes, and self-portraits.

The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, says: “Prisoners are often viewed as “the other” yet they live in our midst, are a part of our communities, and contribute to our societies. The Bible has much to say about the plight of prisoners and the Christian faith recognises that every person is made in the image of God and is valued despite our individual mistakes and regrets. This exhibition allows us the opportunity to understand better the lived experiences of prisoners in Cheshire.”

Around 80 invited guests are expected to attend the opening event at Chester Cathedral on Monday 08 October. The exhibition will then be open to the public from the 09 - 12 October before it travels to Stockport later in the month.

A further 15 venues at different locations around the Diocese of Chester will host the exhibition over the next year.

A selection of images of some of the exhibition artwork can be viewed here.

Page last updated: Tuesday 10th December 2019 12:47 PM
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