Press Release: Open Minds at the Hunt Museum

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Press Release: Open Minds at the Hunt Museum

A FREE Exhibition of creative art works from thirteen prisons and two post release centres from 19th October to 24th November 2019 at the Hunt Museum, 

Last Friday 18 October, saw the opening of the latest Hunt Museum exhibition: Open Minds, with talks from a variety of very knowledgeable speakers. 

Open Minds @ The Hunt Museum gives people of the West of Ireland a chance to see an exhibition that started in Rua Red in Tallaght. It is curated by Brian Maguire, the well-known Irish artist who has worked with every prison in the country over a number of decades and has been a staunch advocate for art education in prisons. The Irish Prison Service chose him because of his understanding of the issues around incarceration, and the huge amount of work he has done with people in custody. 

The artwork selected by Maguire for the exhibition is anonymous. Those who view it won’t know anything about the crimes perpetrated by the person who created it, which is part of the point. The art is put on public display as a kind of evidence that those who go behind bars have not disappeared from society completely. Open Minds wants to challenge people to “see beyond the person who has been convicted.”

After visiting Prison Education Centres to select the exhibition, Maguire observed that 

“the conditions of the studio – isolation – are the conditions of the cell. Communication through art – a solitary action – is also possible in jail. Art which reinforces the inner world has a particular place in this world of stone and timelessness. It was a pleasure and privilege to visit these institutions, over a two week period and meet so many prisoners whose work is now shown in this exhibition.”

The work that is exhibited in the Hunt Museum is very relevant to the people of Limerick and the surrounding areas. It includes a work from Limerick Prison, but also a piece contributed by two local boys, who work at Limerick City Build.   Gearoid and Devlin Hayes are rightly proud of their work having been chosen for a show of this incredibly high artistic quality.   

Choose Life |Gearoid and Devlin Hayes | Welded steel | Limerick City Build | ©

The show is really worth seeing from a purely artistic viewpoint, with some unique drawings, exquisite ceramic tiles, beautiful ceramics, an array of thought provoking sculptures, and more. 

Sketchpads, Anon, Felt Tip Markers, Dochas Women’s Centre, Mountjoy, Photographer: Eugene Langan, ©

Ceramic Tiles, Environmental Group Project, Arbor Hill Prison, Photographer: Eugene Langan, ©

Boat Collision, Anon, Ceramic Sculpture, Midlands Prison,  Photographer: Eugene Langan, ©

First Impressions, Anon, Ceramics and Wood, PACE Post Release Centre, Priorswood House, Coolock,  Photographer: Eugene Langan, ©

Jill Cousins, Director & CEO of the Hunt Museum said:

“It shows what access to education can open up. The creativity and expression is stunning. It makes me hopeful about society, and shows us why chances need to be given to everyone, repeatedly.  I am reminded of an Albert Einstein quote “ The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size.”

The creative arts form an important part of the education programmes provided by ETB teachers in Prison Education Centres. Teachers use a variety of art forms to enable their students to engage in creating new works and the biennial exhibition provides a showcase of a selection of these works.  The exhibition also hosts works created by ex-offenders in Post Release Centres, supported by the Probation Service.

Launch of Open Minds @ The Hunt Museum | CC-BY-SA

Top middle: Fergal Black, to his right George O’Callaghan. Speaking Tom Shortt. Seated bottom right: Brian Maguire & Prof Niambh Hourigan. 

Fergal Black, IPS & Brian Maguire at Launch of Open Minds @ The Hunt Museum CC-BY-SA

George O’Callaghan, LCETB & Tom Shortt Irish Prison Art Education Access Arts Development Officer at Launch of Open Minds @ The Hunt Museum CC-BY-SA

Prof. Niambh Hourigan, Mary Immaculate College at Launch of Open Minds @ The Hunt Museum CC-BY-SA

Launched by the Irish Prison Service Fergal Black,  Director of Care and Rehabilitation in the Irish Prison Service and has responsibility at Director level for the management of prisoner services including Healthcare, Work/Training, Education, Pastoral Care, Psychology, Sentence Planning, Release Planning and Resettlement.

George O’Callaghan – Chief Executive of the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, is the state education and training authority for the Limerick and Clare region in Ireland, who deliver education in prison schools in Ireland by means of a partnership arrangement between two state agencies, the Irish Prison Service and the Education and Training Board Ireland.

Teachers are employed and paid by the Education Board while working in a prison environment, regulated by the prison authorities.

Brian Maguire, internationally renowned Irish artist who pioneered the promotion of visual art education within the Irish Prison Service. 

Professor Niamh Hourigan, Vice President of Academic Affairs – Mary Immaculate College

Prof. Niamh Hourigan is a Sociologist and Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Mary Immaculate College. She has worked for four Irish universities and has published widely on a range of themes including values, social protest, corruption and community violence. In 2011, she was awarded a CACSSS Special Research Commendation Award for her three year ethnographic study of social exclusion and community violence in Limerick city which was published as part of the Understanding Limerick collection.

 Tom Shortt, the Irish Prison Art Education Access Arts Development Officer, a graduate of the NCAD, he has held several educational roles and been a councillor but in 2016 he was appointed as Arts Officer with the Irish Prison Education Service 


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