Ray of Hope raises the spirit of Indian jail inmates

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Ray of Hope raises the spirit of Indian jail inmates
The effort of the team that made the graffiti was lauded. Impressed by the artwork, the Director-General of Police (Prisons), Kerala, announced renovation of the exteriors of 52 more prisons across the state.

A group of Indian students convert jail wall into massive mural.


Karen Ann Monsy

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Published: Thu 21 Apr 2016, 11:01 PM

Last updated: Fri 22 Apr 2016, 2:16 AM

Extending over 2,000 square feet, the imposing outer wall of Kochi's Kakkanad District Jail in Kerala is usually not given a second thought by busy folks crossing the prison as part of their daily commute. But a recent social initiative by a group of Rajagiri School of Engineering students may have changed that for good.
The eye-catcher, titled Ray of Hope, saw the students team up with a local art studio and a major paints manufacturer to turn the wall into a massive mural, featuring a phoenix in a riot of colours. The message is simple: Just as the mythical bird is said to be reborn from its ashes, so prisoners too can hope for a better future.
Fourth-year student Jasmin Paul spoke of how she came up with the idea, together with a friend, Merin Joy, during their college tech fest. "Our main motive was to give the public a different, positive impression of what jail imprisonment means. People see prisons as a punishment centre, but we want them to see it as a rehabilitation centre - a place where people can change for the better. The jail faces a very crowded road, so it was the perfect canvas."

The mural (seen here in its final stages of completion) took the group nine days to complete.
Making it happen was not easy. "We initially thought of painting the prison's inner walls so its inmates could see the message and take heart. But permissions were difficult to obtain." The girls proposed their idea to the prison's superintendent, who was "extremely helpful" in getting the necessary approvals and suggested they team up with a professional studio, considering the youngsters had no previous experience in executing such a large-scale design.
"That's how we teamed up with Hermit Studios, whose artists helped us conceptualise the design and draw the main structure on the wall. We couldn't have done this without them." The project took nine days to complete, with the artists battling soaring temperatures, while standing on scaffoldings 20 feet high, working 17 hours on end at times and pulling a few all-nighters in order to get the work done.
Joseph Roney, one of the main student artists, said the experience was unlike anything he'd ever done in his life. "Before this project, my idea of prisons was mostly influenced by what I'd seen on TV - a place where you served time for your crimes, not one that could help you better yourself... But we got the chance to meet some of the prisoners after the project, some of who are excellent artists too! It made me realise that everyone deserves a second chance. No one is past the point of no return."
The graffiti was unveiled recently by the Director-General of Police (Prisons) Rishi Raj Singh, who lauded the effort and has announced plans to renovate the exteriors of 52 more prisons across Kerala in the same way.

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