KOZHIKODE: A dose of art may cheer up even hardened criminals and help them turn their thoughts away from the dark world where they have travelled. That is the expectation of the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi which plans to set up permanent art galleries in the three central prisons of Kannur, Viyyur (Thrissur) and Poojappura (Thiruvananthap-uram). The inmates will be encouraged to exhibit their creations and get involved in cultural activities to refine their minds. The akademi officials have chosen the places where the galleries will come up. Steps were taken to do the interior works and the art galleries will be opened by September.
Akademi secretary Ponniam Chandran said that the galleries will be controlled by the akademi and will be full-fledged with lighting system, carpet and ceiling. “The gallery is exclusively for prisoners. Initially, it will display the paintings which are with the akademi. These would be replaced with the new ones. We will also conduct classes by artists every three months and also show them master paintings,” he said. The idea to create art galleries in prisons was first mooted by the akademi six years ago during the last LDF government’s time.
However, with the change in government and at the helm of the akademi, the project was shelved. The plan was revived when the present government assumed office. “We got the permission from the home and prisons departments and over Rs 6 lakh will be sanctioned initially for setting up the gallery in each central prison,” said Akademi secretary Ponniam Chandran. The akademi is also planning to install paintings in government cancer care centres and medical colleges and install giant sculptures of over 20-feet height in selected government schools in every district. Both projects would be kickstarted this year itself, according to the akademi officials.