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Exhibition-Fair of Art Works by Female Convicts


Natia Gogolashvili 

On April 20, Human Rights Center organized exhibition-fair of the pottery-works of the convicted women in the conference hall of the Human Rights House Tbilisi. Tens of their works were exhibited in the hall. The convicted women created them in the frame of the Art-Therapy Program implemented by HRC in the penitentiary establishment. 

Human Rights Center, with the financial support of the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Georgia, implemented 4-month project in the penitentiary establishment # 5 for female convicts. In the frame of the project art-trainer taught pottery work to the project beneficiaries: creation of ceramic items and burning them in special kiln. Social worker also participated in the program, who also learned the pottery work and after completion of the project, she will lead the art-therapy course for other beneficiaries. 

HRC deputy executive director Nino Tlashadze said, more beneficiaries wanted to join the program but finally only 20 convicted women were selected.

“The beneficiaries of the program were selected based on agreed criteria: we considered their social conditions, health conditions and motivation. Initially the women were skeptical about the program; they did not expect that in a short period of time they will be able to learn working with the clay. However, the project turned up successful. A psychologist was also engaged in the program, who provided the beneficiaries with psychological therapy. In the frame of the project, HRC purchased a kiln, other materials, with which they created clay items during the four months. After the project is over, HRC handed the kiln and clay to the penitentiary establishment as presents, which will enable them to continue the program with other beneficiaries. We plan and are eager to implement similar programs in future too,” Nino Tlashadze said.

In the frame of the project, art-trainer Kakhaber Kemoklidze led the pottery-work lessons for the convicted women. 

“The lessons were organized twice a week and lasted two hours each. We had two ten-member groups. I did not interfere in the process of creating their works. These items were produced solely by the prisoners. Each of them is similar to the work of an artist; nobody will suspect that these women had never before worked with the clay,” Kakhaber Kemoklidze said.

Head of the social welfare department at the Ministry of Corrections Leyla Aftsiauri said re-socialization and rehabilitation of inmates is very significant process in the penitentiary establishments. 

“The rehabilitation programs, particularly those which aim to implement art-therapy programs, have huge importance. This program caused huge interest of the inmates. They are eager to get engaged in similar programs. I want to underline the project implemented by Human Rights Center in the establishment for female convicts, which was successful. The women started working with the clay with zero experience. Today, we see how beautiful items they created. We can easily take them to the market,” Leyla Aftsiauri said.

Majority of female convicts did not wish to sell their works. Only 16 items were for sale at the exhibition. The money received from the sale of their works will be transferred to the personal bank accounts of the female convicts. 

The article was prepared in the frame of the project – “Monitoring Conditions of Juvenile and Female Prisoners in Georgian Penitentiary”, which is implemented by Human Rights Center with the Bulgarian Development Aid through the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Georgia. The views in the article do not necessarily express the views of the donor and it is responsible for the content of the article. 

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