Lots to think about

IMG_3309with Barbie sculpture on beach

My time in Sydney is drawing to a close. I am looking forward to starting work in the prison next week and getting stuck in, the last few days have been about acclimatising, learning a bit about Australian life and people. I am essentially a people – person though and Im getting bit lonely wondering around on my own! I have been thinking hard about Australians and crime and criminals. Such a complex case. The first settlers banished criminals and now living under a right wing government with many social problems of its own. I have looked at interesting sculptures and walked down Bondi beach with the sand in-between my toes – I have looked out to sea and wondered what I am doing here?

Sculpture watching me
Sydney View

I was looking for something related to outsider art or prison art or a community arts project that I could attend – where I am staying near the harbour could be almost any capital city, global city in the world, smart restaurants, shiny towers, people from all around the world (except Africa it seems) – Today I walked for miles as I wanted to get out of the luxury zone, I walked though the red light district, saw homeless people and a bit of dirt, all standard city stuff.


There did not appear to be a community art presence, an outsider art presence, but I have not had time to look properly. I thought fondly of the Koestler exhibition, of the brilliant exhibitions such as Art as Opportunity I have been involved in, and felt lucky.  What I did find is a Museum of Justice and Police. Now my background and education is totally museum centric so I had high hopes. Firstly I had to pay in, which I am not used to for a national museum. It was a disappointment. I had expected too much – I wanted an intellectual debate on Australia’s ‘position’ on crime and justice. I wanted it to bring the debate right into the present day, to the death of the Bali 9 drug dealers for example, to their relationship with their past story. Instead it was a glamorisation of 1920’s gangsters and criminals. Thats possibly what I am going to have to – or part of my journey or mission.


Having said that, I loved looking deep into the eyes of the mugshots of the past criminals. They have an amazing collection of negatives of mug shots and crime scenes that painted a picture straight out of an old movie. On the whole though, a wasted opportunity to make some statements about the Australian connection to crime and justice – made me realise how brilliant museums and galleries in the UK are. They are brave. Big displays of prisoner art at Southbank, relevant debate in museums and galleries, and all for free!


2 thoughts on “Lots to think about

  1. Rita Leaman says:

    The Redfern district is where the aboriginal population gravitated and you will find areas of deprivation. Alcohol misuse is high amongst other social problems. Another social problem everywhere is the ‘pokie’ machines. Huge gambling problems and high amongst women too.


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