Invercargill prisoners sharing Christmas cheer
Invercargill prisoner are helping spread cheer at Christmas, by supporting the Waihopai City Lions Club Light up Christmas tree festival.
One prisoner has sculpted papier-mâché caricatures of Minister Judith Collins, Mayor Tim Shadbolt and ILT Stadium Southland General Manager, Nigel Skelt to feature in the display.
Acting prison director Mike Rongo said it was important to prisoners and staff that they were involved in supporting local projects.
"The positive feedback to their work gives the men encouragement to continue with these activities and demonstrates that there are easy ways that they can engage and contribute to the community in a good way."
As part of the Christmas tree event, businesses 'rent' a tree from the Lions Club, they decorate the tree and nominate a charity to support.
The public view the trees and vote for their favourite by making a donation. The money goes to the charity nominated by the business.
Prisoners got involved when the prison was approached by the Lions to build the voting boxes.
The 36 boxes were made in the prison as part of the men's constructive activity programme, and, as thanks for building the boxes, the Lions Club offered the prison a tree to decorate with donations to go toward books for the prison library.
The boxes, decorations and the caricature papier-mâché sculptures have all been created by the prisoners as part of the prison art and constructive activities programme.
Six prisoners made all the decorations from paper, using origami or paper cutting.
The caricature sculptures were made from newspaper and toilet paper, were glued together with soap, water, and wall paper paste, and each took about four weeks to create.
Initially they were coloured with coffee, until the prisoner was give access to paint. The man said he enjoyed "turning something we have in prison into an outstanding piece of art".
"Christmas in prison is awful," the prisoner said.
"You just want the day to hurry up and be over."
After the Christmas tree event, the prisoner is keen to sell the sculptures and that money would also go toward books for the Invercargill Prison library.
For his next project, he hopes to get a group of prisoners to create super heroes for the visits hall of the prison, for a children's charity or Starship Hospital.
The Christmas tree display is at Stadium Southland until December 24.