New Craft Initiatives in Prison 2017

A lot has been said already regarding the teaching of Arts and Crafts in prisons concerning how it contributes to the reintegration of people back into society. As an art teacher in prisons you will be responsible for the process of creative self-discovery of students first entering your art room. No pressure then, right? Cloverhill Prison (remand) has a high turnover and consequently needs to engage students almost immediately on entering the school. Art could be considered a gateway subject, helping students to access the school and engage in other subjects offered on your curriculum.


As one of the new initiatives at Cloverhill we introduced model making into the classroom for the first time in 2017 and the take up has been steady. The introduction of ‘model kits’ helps students in the undertaking of making a craft piece with pictured steps and numbered guidelines. You can tick the literacy and numeracy boxes here. Also, students can work independently or collaborate on the construction of the model with a fellow inmate. This can result in peer to peer learning, facilitated by the teacher and furthering engagement with the school.


Airfix and Matchbox kits from beginner to advanced are available from our current art supplier. You have the usual kits of airplanes tanks and cars. The matchbox type kits (templates and matches included) have clocks, famous buildings, boats and horse drawn wagons. Wood and animal bone models have a long and diverse history in ‘prison crafts’ and there is some resonance of this in the take up of model making. In the olden days models would be sold at markets outside the prisons but handmade gifts made for loved ones and given out on visits is still cherished today. Horse and Cart models are especially valued by members of the Travelling community reflecting cultural interests and they can work together on larger models.  I would recommend art teachers to order some of the products in and see your students’ self -directing and working independently.

Mark Kelly

Art Teacher | Cloverhill Education Centre