Yellow Ribbon Community Arts Festival 2022
“Home is where the heART is”:
Inmates Use Art to Rally the Community to Support Second Chances
Singapore, 4 November 2022 – This year’s Yellow Ribbon Community Arts Festival (YR CAF), formerly known as the Yellow Ribbon Community Art & Poetry Exhibition, was launched today at Gardens by the Bay by Guest-of-Honour Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law.
Gardens by the Bay has been an ardent supporter of the Yellow Ribbon Project (YRP) and second chances. As an expression of their support for the Yellow Ribbon cause, Gardens by the Bay lit up their Supertrees in Yellow today.
Partnership with the Community
Into its 16th edition, this year’s YR CAF marks the YRP’s inaugural partnership with an ex-offender art support group, CANVAS, and third collaboration with Sing Lit Station (SLS), a non-profit organisation which aims to grow the local literary community.
CANVAS was founded in 2019 to provide opportunities to former inmate artists who attended the visual arts programme in prison, and would like to pursue the arts after their release from prison. SLS provided valuable guidance to inmates in the creative process.
Former inmate artist from the Visual Arts Hub (VAH) and the co-founder of CANVAS Mr Barry Yeow continues to play an active role in the arts and serves as an artist mentor to provide artistic guidance to the current VAH inmates. The support given by our community partners is crucial to support the reintegration journey of inmates.
Art at This Year’s Festival
YR CAF 2022, themed “Home is where the heART is”, offers a glimpse into the inmates’ expression of what ‘home’ means to them through their artworks and poems. Being incarcerated and away from home, their artworks depict their hope to reconnect with their loved ones and their desire to be given a second chance when they are released from prison.
A total of 50 art pieces were created by 14 male inmates from the Visual Arts Hub, located at Institution B4 of the Changi Prison Complex, and 15 women inmates from Institution A4 of the Changi Prison Complex. A total of 29 poems were written by 18 male inmates from the Prison School at TM1 and S1 at Selarang Park Complex. During the process, these inmates were supported by volunteer artists and poet mentors from CANVAS and SLS. These artist and poet mentors worked closely with the inmates for close to four months in preparation for the exhibition.
Members of public can show their support for second chances by adopting the art pieces and poems at the festival. This festival also provides an opportunity for inmates to do their part to give back to the community even though they are incarcerated. The proceeds from the adoption of the art pieces and poems will be channelled to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which supports a variety of rehabilitation and reintegration programmes and services for inmates, ex-offenders, and their families.
The inmates’ works have also been put up online on a dedicated website - www.yellowribbonart.sg, which will enable people around the world to view the artworks, listen to the poetry, and read the stories of the contributing artists.
In addition to showcasing artwork, pottery, and poetry, YRCAF has included new elements to allow participants to immerse themselves in a 360º sensory experience showcasing the talents of inmates and ex-offenders, through music performances, baked goods, merchandise, and art workshops.
The YR CAF at Gardens by the Bay will be open to the public from 5 to 13 November 2022.
Quotes from YR CAF 2022 inmate participants, mentors and Organising Committee Chairperson can be found at Annex.
“Jane”, an inmate participant from the women’s prison shared: “My artwork is titled “The Power of Manifestation”. I feel that we have to embrace what is given to us and we need to be the master of our own destiny, as our future is in our own hands. My drawing is my imagination of what ‘Home’ means to me. The place I call ‘Home’ is a place where I can find happiness, vulnerability and safety. Manifesting this imagination is akin to giving myself a second chance to recreate my future and who I want to be. I am thankful for this opportunity to showcase my artwork and do my part to promote second chances.” said ‘Jane’, one of the participants in Arts Behind Bars, who painted on canvas.
Mr Ridhuan Jailer, a former inmate artist and currently a member of CANVAS shared his motivation behind mentoring inmates from the VAH for the first time: “In itself, art is a reflection of life. It allows me to have the clarity to reflect on my inner compass without the confinement of a prison bias. Practising art requires a certain level of discipline that has helped me improve my life and make me more appreciative of life and its meaning. To be able to give back is also one of the fulfilments for the soul.”
Local poet and mentor to the inmates, Mr Paul Tan, said: “Encouraging the inmates to write about their experiences gives them a way to express themselves. Even though they feel that their work is far from perfect, I am very impressed and there is a lot of heart in what they are writing. I wish them well in their journey of rehabilitation and change.”
Chairperson for the YR CAF Organising Committee, Superintendent of Prisons, Ms Hatsuee Foo, shared her thoughts regarding this year’s exhibition: “Each piece of artwork can take months for the artist to conceptualise and complete, often having to redo all over again. The process of successful reintegration similarly requires tremendous perseverance, hard work and re-work, over the years. The YR CAF is about unleashing the potential that each inmate artist has, not just in the arts but also in the potential for a changed life that can be unlocked when inmates take the first step to own their change, and when the community who believes in them accept and give them a second chance.”
About the Yellow Ribbon Project
Started in 2004, the Yellow Ribbon Project is a community initiative in Singapore that aims to create awareness of the need to give second chances to ex-offenders, generate acceptance of ex-offenders and their families in the community, and inspire community action to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders into society. Its vision is to strive for an inclusive society, a nation beyond second chances.
The Yellow Ribbon Project is an initiative under the Community Action for the Rehabilitation of Ex-Offenders (CARE) Network, which comprises Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Singapore Prison Service (SPS), Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG), National Council of Social Service (NCSS), Industrial & Services Co-operative Society Ltd (ISCOS), Yellow Ribbon Fund (YRF), Singapore After-Care Association (SACA), Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA) and NeuGen Fund (NeuGen).
More information is available at www.yellowribbon.gov.sg.