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By MELA KATONIVUALIKU Pho­tos by JONE LUVENITOGA Oil paint­ings, pas­tel and pen­cil pic­tures and em­broi­dered flow­ers have bloomed be­hind the bars of Fiji’s Korovou Prison. Six in­mates from the prison re­cently showed their art­work and tal­ent in an ex­hi­bi­tion, Bloom­ing In­side, held in the Tag­i­mou­cia Art Gallery, part of the prison com­plex at Walu Bay, Suva. It was an ini­tia­tive of the Yel­low Rib­bon Project to help re­ha­bil­i­tate pris­on­ers. In­mates Isoa Cokadrokadroka, Pita Driti, Pauliasi De­laibatiki, Aisake Amoe, Ethan Kai and lone fe­male artist Muskan Bal­la­gan brought the gloomy build­ing back to life with their paint­ings of flow­ers, horse rac­ing and vi­sions of life by the beach. Bal­la­gan, 26, said her paint­ings, ti­tled Wild­flower and Flo­ral Drama, helped her cope with the long sep­a­ra­tion from her fam­ily in In­dia. Her work in­cluded framed em­broi­dered flow­ers. Bal­la­gan has been paint­ing for the past six years in prison and this was her se­cond ex­hi­bi­tion. Her fa­ther has agreed to open a gallery in In­dia to show work of his daugh­ter and her fel­low in­mates. Aus­tralian na­tional Ethan Kai is grate­ful to the Fiji Cor­rec­tions Ser­vice for en­abling him to bring out his artis­tic flair. The 36-year-old in­mate does most of his art­work with pen­cil on pa­per and hopes to ven­ture soon into oils on can­vas. He has served three years of his 13 year prison term but is new to art. De­spite his in­ter­est he did not pre­vi­ously have the time or re­sources to pur­sue it. Aisake Amoe, 28, from Ro­tuma is­land said when he is alone in prison he thinks of ideas for his next paint­ing. “Some­times my fel­low broth­ers in­side give me their ideas as well. It is a col­lec­tive way for us to ex­press our­selves and how we feel. I am full of re­grets for my wrong do­ing and I have changed. I am grate­ful that this project has not only helped me pur­sue my tal­ent but changed my mind­set.” Art tu­tor Jane Rick­etts, for many years an English teacher in Fiji, vol­un­teers at the Fiji Cor­rec­tions Ser­vice. She said it was amaz­ing to see the amount of tal­ent in­mates have. “I am an artist my­self and I am their link to the art world and to show­ing their tal­ent to the out­side world. I have been vol­un­teer­ing and work­ing with in­mates since 2008 and I know for a fact they find peace when they ex­press them­selves through their art­work. ” The Tag­i­mou­cia Art Gallery is lo­cated at Walu Bay in Suva next to the Royal Suva Yacht Club and is open from Mon­day to Satur­day.

Min­is­ter for Tourism & Trade Mr Faiyaz Sid­diq Koya with Korovou Prison in­mates

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