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The New Beginnings Art Awards supports women in contact with the criminal justice system. Greta Hughson finds the exhibition worth a visit

The Sweet Smell of Spice C The Artist.jpg“Forget your champagne private views and your retrospectives,” writes Greta Hughson in her review of the exhibition of pieces submitted to the New Beginnings Art Awards. “Park your snobbery and your thirst for the next big thing. Tucked away in a Surrey gallery, half an hour from London, this exhibition is about women saying something about themselves, their experiences and aspirations through art, often for the first time and often anonymously.”

The pieces in this exhibition have all been created by women in contact with the criminal justice system, as part of a scheme run by the Women’s Support Centre in Surrey. There is a theory that being involved in art can build people’s sense of self-worth, which is a key element of preventing reoffending. The statistics currently seem to bear this out: the national reoffending rate for women is around 60%, while the figure for women in contact with the Centre is 20%.

This year’s awards followed the theme of Sugar and Spice, which led to a entries on a variety of topics, from a literal interpretation (‘The Sweet Smell of Spice’ by Anonymous is pictured) to musings on femininity.

Click here to read Greta’s review and comment.