TV producers go to jail

Artist Graeme Stevenson inside the prison.
Artist Graeme Stevenson inside the prison.

THE local producers of popular art TV show "Colour in Your Life" have gone to jail.

Don't worry, they have committed no crime.

To the contary, the show is pleasing more people by the day with it's unique insight into the lives and techniques of its subject artists.

The latest episode of Colour In Your Life was filmed at Junee Correctional Centre, where the inmates, who have been following the series got the chance to feature in the production.

The general consensus is that internationally aclaimed Murwillumbah artist Graeme Stevenson's show has played a big part in inspiring and changing the inmates who watch it.

He has basically helped them to escape - metaphorically speaking.

Art is the medium that lets them access another world of creativity and expression.

Much of the show's success and ability to touch the minds and hearts of any viewer is the fact that it's made by artists about artists.

During Mr Stevenson's visit to the medium/minimum security facility in the Riverina, he had three other artists with him - Dr Manuel Petavrakis (Brisbane), Jo Frederiks (Brisbane) and Amelia Batchelor (Murwillumbah) - and they all took part in a workshop for the inmates.

The cultural advisor at Junee, Gerome Brodin, said that of the 800 inmates at Junee, 200 of them now watch the Colour In Your Life show each Sunday night on the TV4ME digital free to air channel, in their cells.

Such is the effect of the jail bush telegraph.

It started several months ago when one inmate, Paul, discovered Graeme's 30-minute art segment on TV.

He found it positive and educational and after a while Paul shared his find with fellow inmates, who also began watching the program in their cells.

"During the week we'd have a yarn about what we'd seen and have a try at practicing the techniques," said Paul, for whom art was a hobby before going to Junee.

"Graeme's show has such a variety of artists, with different styles and techniques which keep broadening my horizons," said Paul.

He has painted more than 100 paintings and many of these artworks decorate different sections of the jail.

A former gymnasium at Junee has been turned into a Cultural Centre and since word got out about Graeme's show, increasing numbers of inmates are gathering there to paint.

Not only is this group of around 20 inmates painting every day, from 8am to 3pm, they have given their artwork to several charities to be auctioned to raise funds.

"It's a bit like the effect of the library in the movie The Shawshank Redemption," Mr Stevenson said.

"I had hoped the show would do this for people but never thought it would change a whole jail like this."

Not long after he planned to take his film crew to Junee, Graeme was contacted by the Bathurst Correctional facility as well.

"Strange things are happening - the inmates there are doing the same thing as at Junee.

Check out the Colour In Your Life website ( www.colourinyourlife.com.au) which encourages interaction between artists and people interested in art.

Topics:  colour in your life, junee correctional centre, tv show




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