Last week I went to what used to be Reading Prison and is now open to the public to view the building, art and writing.
I think it’s a really interesting experience, it’s full of history and feelings of ‘people used to walk this path that I’m on but in an entirely different way’.
The booklet you get on entrance fills you in with interesting facts and about the cells and the creative works featured. It was the first time I’ve heard Oscar Wilde was in there for two years as back in 1895, being gay (having sexual relations with same sex) was a crime.
If your going there to find a lot of art then you will be disappointed, the art is minimal but I think that adds to the mystery of the place. I found it really interesting, like being in an episode of Prison Break. I liked reading letters on the tables in the cells as they were so raw and poetic, especially a letter Ai Wewei wrote to his son. I liked seeing portraits by Marlene Dumas and glasses with the most detailed refections by Peter Dreher.
It’s a good place to take in a different environment and get inspired; I drew in my sketchbook, some people took photos and others on their film cameras.
Inside is a project by Art Angel, Reading Prison is open till 4 December, tickets are £9 per adult and you can find out more to book your place here.
From the beginning stages I had felt this to become a self portrait and bit by bit I developed into something I liked. This is one of those times I can say – painting 10 minutes a day really paid off.
My first self portrait that I did in 2012, was expressive and showed what I felt and had in that year it may not of been any ‘good’ but it was my expression of my life. This too is expressive but in another way, I didn’t want to focus on what I have, possessions, dreams and ideas.
I chose colour, lightness and to signify a new chapter by including my spiritual name – Ajeet (overcomer of obstacles) Amrita (opening of the heart to golden grace) Kaur (princess/lioness).
The hair is made up of a combination of acrylic and tempera paint, I don’t have any dark brown acrylic so I used what I had. Applied vigorously has made cracks appear. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I wanted a way to show the grey hairs I have and this accidentally fits that!
I am very out of practise in blending facial tones, even for folk art, so that is something I will continue to learn and develop.
This painting has gone through many changes, I think around 20+ layers and had been on my easel for a year till I was reading the story each day and what I was reading came through onto the canvas.
The figure is the one thing that stayed, I knew it was going to be the central piece and it worked out well that much like the story, my figure is expanding from the heart centre and reaching out. The words were inspired by visionary artist Howard Finster (1916-2001) who I saw on a Raw Vision magazine cover issue 86.
I didn’t plan to write as much as I did, though I find writing with a paintbrush therapeutic, there were so many good nuggets of encouragement and wisdom from Martha Beck, I filled the entire space!