“Prisoners are also Humans;” this is the motto that is caved in the walls of Braisline Road, “Welikada” Prison, Sri Lanka along with the gigantic painting of a mother and an infant. The talented artist behind the “motherly love” painting is a young man, who had been jailed for drug dealing in April, 1991.
This amazing painter involved in eight Buddhist Vesak Pandol creations, ten advertising motor vehicle decorations, and also he conducted nineteen art gallery shows. Therefore, this artist tells the world, such beauty and unity is not strange to the place of desolation. Thanks to people like the current Commissioner General of Prisons, Major V.R. De Silva, who gives helping hand to Welikada prison inmates to showcase their own intrinsic talent in painting and other creativities when there is a low key sponsorship on such tasks. It is no wonder that Art allows prisoners to communicate with others and with the public and develop their self-esteem. According to one of the spokesmen in Prisons Department, this artistic prison inmate convicted 37 times related to illegal drug possession.
It is questionable whether it builds a positive attitude for successful reentry, when considering our Sri Lankan Picasso’s story of 37 times conviction. However, it is a golden opportunity for men and women behind bars to celebrate their own strengths through creativity with help of others. Sometimes, prisoners after leaving the dark cells continue their hard work upon release for the betterment of their future and we hope such talents shed light to thousands of lives behind steel bars.