Artist of the Month – Iñigo Garrido

Inigo Garrido tells SPAN us about his experience as an artist working in Scottish prisons.


What is your experience of working in Scottish prisons – past and present?

My experience of working creatively in Scottish Prisons during the last six years has been both challenging and rewarding at the same time. I work with new technologies for creating work and the computers/programs available were very limited when I started. Internet and mobiles phones are still banned for prisoners, but we now have computers and programs that are up to date for graphic design, desktop publishing and video. We have won several awards for STIR during this time and I have seen  remarkable personal achievements made by prisoners, which is truly rewarding. I was also nominated by some prisoners in my group for the’ Outstanding Teacher’ award by the Prison Learning Alliance in 2016, and won it!

What role do the Arts have to play in the criminal justice sector and with people residing in Prisons?

The arts play a very important part in the criminal justice sector because they are capable of reaching those that other disciplines may not reach. People involved in art and creative projects can see their motivation and self-esteem enhanced, which are fundamental for long lasting behavioural change. The arts can also tap into identity and change how we see ourselves  restoring self-dignity and respect, essential requirements of responsible citizens.

What impact has your organisation work made whilst working in Prisons either with individuals or a larger group/sector?

While working in Scottish Prisons, I have helped establish the arts magazine STIR, which is now on its fifth year, as well as launching the prison information magazine SnapShotts and forming the Creative Media Group (CMG) in HM Prison Shotts, which carries out publication design commissions and runs the Prisoner Information TV Channel. All of these ongoing projects are run by prisoners for prisoners. To date CMG has worked on creative projects for a variety of organisations including: The University of St Andrews, the Koestler Trust, Creative Scotland, HMIPS, SPS, Citizens Theatre and Theatre Nemo among others. It’s difficult to assess the impact of these projects in a wider sense. However, they all have contributed to make people living in prison able to channel their creativity and find platforms to express themselves.