Blooming Inside – A Yellow Ribbon Project

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 Five inmates at the Fiji Corrections Service displayed their brilliant artwork at the Tagimoucia Art Gallery at the Fiji Corrections Service in Korovou, Walu Bay on Thursday evening (30 November 17).

 Chief guest at the launch, the Honorable Mr Faiyaz Siddiq Koya, Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Land and Mineral Resources said the theme of the exhibition ‘Blooming Inside’ simply expressed the work Fiji Corrections was relentlessly pursuing, in order to harness and expose the goodness and beauty of its inmates when it came to art.

 “I have been informed that most visitors, who do visit the art gallery, are touched by the flower paintings. This is because they know that flowers usually express the celebration of joy and the beauty in the regeneration of life.

 “But seeing these expressions emanating from Corrections institutions makes them realize that we are all still human beings and everyone deserves a chance,’’ Hon. Koya told guests at the launch.

 “All they need is a second chance to make things right and express the beauty of what they can positively contribute to. Therefore, I urge us all present here tonight to support the contributions made by the Tagimoucia Art Gallery and the Yellow Ribbon Project as a whole.”

 Hon. Koya informed guests that the Fiji Corrections Service officially opened the Tagimoucia Art Gallery on 15 October 2008.

 The Art Gallery was an initiative organized by the former Commissioner of Corrections Service Major General Ioane Naivalurua in his effort to recognize, develop and expose the talents inmates have within the institution.

 “Now to qualify for this rehabilitation program, the inmates had to meet certain criteria of participation and achievement in the preliminary rehabilitation phases,’ Hon. Koya said.

 Hon Koya paid tribute to Mrs Jane Ricketts, whom the Fiji Correction Service considers its Guardian Angel because of her commitment to the Art Gallery.

 “ I would like to commend Mrs Jane Ricketts a volunteer arts teacher, who has been instrumental in developing and working with inmates identified to participate in this program from 2008 until today.

 “Some of the inmates who had worked under her guidance have exceptionally developed into outstanding artists. As a result, two artists won prizes in a national painting competition, while paintings produced from the gallery were auctioned in China to raise funds for the Cyclone Winston Appeal.

 “Interestingly enough, one of the paintings sold became the highest priced art work and has also contributed towards today’s occasion.”

 Commissioner of Corrections, Commander Kean confirmed that Sixty (60) per cent of the proceeds collected from the paintings sold, goes directly to the inmates’ bank accounts which they will collect whilst being discharge or during approved circumstances. The other forty (40) per cent goes towards the purchasing of painting materials and other necessary tools and equipment.

 Hon Koya hopes that the art work produced would convincingly attract visitors and help them understand that even those who have fell on the wrong side of the law, also have inner beauty to express.

 “It is important to win over such visitors as friends and have them assist the Fiji Corrections Service in reintegrating former offenders. It is believed that the successful reintegration of offenders into the community, would be the best security guaranteed, given that they would not want to reoffend.”

 “Even though the theme ‘Blooming Inside’ may not exactly sound like a Climate Change awareness programme, it most definitely supports the conservation and interpretation of nature in every way.

 Hon Koya acknowledged the hard work done by the Fiji Corrections Service in trying to reconnect the communities with inmates through the Yellow Ribbon Program.

 Some of the paintings that caught the eye of many included the work of Pauliasi Delaibatiki who produced a series called Blooming Trilogy and also that of Pita Driti whose famous depiction of a famous event that makes Ba stand still – a horse race in the middle of a green field blooming with flowers.

 Other inmates included Aisake Amoe, born in Suva of Rotuman Descent whose art form include very detailed drawings and cartoons and Australian pencil artist Ethan Kai whose pencil art form of women and flowers proved to be a big hit on the evening.

 The only female of the group is Muskaan Balagaan who hails from Punjab in India who combines Indian and Fijian motifs in her paintings.

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