Health Centre staff with the artworks. Frames for the art were made by men in the prison using wooden floorboards from the old prison gym.A call for new artwork to adorn the Invercargill Prison Health Centre wall has inspired artists from across the prison.

Men in the prison were invited to create something for the health centre for a prize of chocolate,” says Health Centre Manager Cassie Carstensen. “All submissions are considered a donation to the Health Centre and all submissions will be showcased.”

“We have had a number submissions and I am floored by the talent,” she says. “The competition closed on 20 February and was hard to judge!” Cassie sought judging from the prison’s senior leadership team, health and custodial staff.

The artworks created a lot of conversation with tāne coming to the unit proud to see their work on the walls. This has inspired more budding artists keen to join in on the next competition.

Art creation is an important activity in prisons, helping not just as a release for their creativity within this environment but it also aids with people’s mental health. It can help to boost confidence and make us feel more engaged and resilient. Besides these benefits, art engagement also alleviates anxiety, depression and stress, providing a healthy emotional outlet for anger, stress, sadness, anxiety, and other emotions that can be difficult for people to control.

“It's also important for people coming to the Health Centre to come to a positive, bright environment. “The art can help set a tone for the environment and gives people something to look at and talk about while they wait.”

In addition to entries from tāne in the prison, it inspired staff as well, with a custodial colleague also donating artworks he created to the health centre. He contributed some beautiful and iconic photographs of the local area.

“This is a real treat for tāne coming to the Health Centre, especially if they are local,” says Cassie. “They are really enjoying the art and the pictures of places they know.”