How art saves lives, told through the eyes of former prisoner Stephen Greer and current inmates at Magilligan Prison in Northern Ireland.
Stephen Greer served many years in prison for drugs, firearm and paramilitary offences.
During his last sentence Stephen started taking art classes. It changed his life. Stephen returns to Magilligan for the first time since his release to trial a new pilot scheme teaching art to prisoners. Will art transform their lives as it did his?
As we watch their work evolve, the prisoners reveal their own stories. Robert Rusek is serving two years for criminal damage, assault and breaching a restraining order. Piaras Heatley is serving five years for actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm and assault.
Stephen shares the moving story of how art saved his life and why he’s on a crusade to spread the healing benefits of art, ‘I’m a convicted terrorist, if I can turn my life around anybody can’, he says. Growing up in Bangor County Down with undiagnosed dyslexia, Stephen left school at 16 to work as Northern Ireland’s youngest pest controller, dabbled with cannabis, became addicted to cocaine, got involved with paramilitaries and found himself behind bars. ‘I never had any self belief until the art teacher in Magilligan gave me confidence in myself Now, I just want to give something back.’ Stephen’s mental and physical health were impacted by his lifestyle. In 2021 a kidney transplant went badly wrong and he has just undergone a second life-saving transplant.
Gary Milling, Governor of Magilligan Prison explains why he’s invited a former serious offender back inside to teach art. Stephen’s mother Maureen Greer reveals the pain she endured as a result of her son’s choices. Skye Bombas, artist and friend, encourages Stephen to attend her classes and to develop as an artist. Fred Caulfield, head of Prison Arts Foundation, assesses the final work produced by Stephen and his prisoner protégés Piaras and Robert.
Producer/ Director: Hilary Fennell, 2023
3 Rock Productions and Lennox Productions.
Available on BBC iPlayer from September 1st 2023