Ikon artist gets three years in high-security prison

The Ikon Gallery has sent a renowned Birmingham-born artist to a high-security prison – as part of a project to rehabilitate violent criminals.

Dean Kelland, who was born and brought up in Great Barr in the 1970s, will be Ikon’s artist-in-residence for the next three years at HMP Grendon, Buckinghamshire.

HMP Grendon is a unique prison in that it operates as a full-time therapeutic community with inmates who volunteer to be there, analysing behaviours to try to understand why they ended up behind bars.

As part of this regime, the artist will work with prisoners to make and submit work to the Koestler Awards – through Koestler Arts, the UK’s leading prison arts charity – as well as holding annual exhibitions at the jail.

Jonathan Watkins, director of the Ikon Gallery, which is housed in a Grade II-listed former school at 1 Oozells Square in Brindleyplace, said: “We are delighted to have Dean on board for Ikon’s second artist’s residency at HMP Grendon.

“His practice, with its emphasis on the nature of male identity, could not be better suited to the prison’s therapeutic programme. The next three years will be an exciting creative adventure for all involved.”

The artist-in-residence programme has been funded by the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust and follows Edmund Clark’s residency.

Dean Kelland, who works across performance, photography and filmmaking, said: “My ongoing interests in performance, gender representation and veils of masculinities are being rehearsed through therapies at HMP Grendon, and we can do something really exciting and positive.

“The prison community has been welcoming and the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust supportive from the outset.”

Rebecca Hayward, the first woman governor of HMP Grendon, explained that the prison operates a “democratic therapeutic community” to promote positive relationships, personal responsibility and social participation.

She said: “We are delighted to work with Dean to see the transformational effect that art can have on residents and witness the discussion that this will generate amongst our community members and the public beyond.

“The artist’s contribution to life at HMP Grendon is highly valued by our communities and really helps to turn the men’s lives around.

“Involving residents in the production of visual art which responds to the history and context of therapeutic practice is exciting and offers them the opportunity to find and express their own creativity.”

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