Corrective Services NSW

Arts and craft

Art behind bars

Many inmates in NSW prisons produce artwork, often of significant quality. Some of this is available for sale to the public at reasonable prices. Most of the purchase price is paid to the inmate, who can buy items while in prison (eg. extra food and toiletries, art materials) or save for when they leave prison.

Painting and other forms of art provide a range of benefits for inmates, including having an engaging form of activity when locked in cells and the acquisition of skills useful on release. In total these activities contribute to a more positive experience of time in prison and, hopefully, a more successful eventual reintegration into the community. 

One of the things we know about offenders is that many of them have difficulty finding constructive ways to use their leisure time. Art may provide a new outlet for this so can be good for offenders and for society.


Art and craft work can be purchased at:

​There is also a permanent exhibition at the craft gallery at Cooma. On occasion, works are exhibited at regional galleries.

Boom Gate ​Gallery

Long Bay Correctional Complex has a long tradition of creating significant inmate artwork. Inmates continue to practice art at the complex, with many pieces available for display and sale at the Boom Gate Gallery. You are encouraged to drop into the gallery just for a look.

The Boom Gate Gallery opened at Long Bay Correctional Complex in Malabar in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs in 1992 and since then has sold hundreds of works by inmate artists, including paintings, drawings and sculptures.

Inmates are referred to the gallery by custodial and non-custodial staff, psychologists, welfare and education staff. More than 80 per cent of the works exhibited are created by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inmates.

For more information or to view and purchase the artwork available for sale, visit the Boom Gate Gallery website.

Cooma Craf​​t Gallery

The Cooma Craft Gallery is part of the experience of visiting the nearby NSW State Correction Museum. Up to four inmates produce their works on site as artists in session. Visitors can see the works being produced and engage with the artists.

The art and craft program is available to carefully selected inmates at Cooma Correctional Centre. They must apply for a craftsman's certificate. Up to 60 inmates are registered craftsmen. They're self-taught and required to pay for their own art materials. The art program is regarded as a form of therapy and keeps inmates focused. 

Some pieces are exhibited at regional galleries and are permanently displayed in the museum's Craft Gallery.

The Cooma Craf​​t​ Gallery is open 12:30 to 3pm Tuesday to Friday, and 9am to 3pm Saturday. Call the NSW State Correctional Museum on 02 6452 5974 to visit the gallery.

Cooma Craft Gallery
Cooma Craft Gallery
Cooma Craft Gallery
Cooma Craft Gallery

Girrawaa ​Arts Centre​​​

The Girrawaa Arts Centre at Bathurst Correctional Centre was opened in 1998 by former Corrective Services Minister Bob Debus.

Up to 15 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inmates are involved in the program, which is designed to help them develop artistic skills, create an artistic portfolio and learn how to sell their artwork and build careers as successful artists.

Inmates create Aboriginal artefacts such as boomerangs, paintings and didgeridoos. These pieces are sold to the public and government agencies as well as to a wholesaler.

Pieces are exhibited in government buildings of Corrective Services NSW, TAFE NSW, Education NSW and local councils. 

Money generated from artwork sales is put back into the centre's operating costs. 

The program is part of Corrective Services Industries and provides Aboriginal inmates with cultural, educational, vocational, workplace and business management skills. Inmates complete specialised courses such as Aboriginal contemporary design, picture framing and sandblasting through TAFE Western as well as basic small business courses.

These skills aim to help them gain work on their release from custody and reduces their risk of re-offending.

The centre is supported by professional artists and elders, who work with Aboriginal artists to develop their artistic skills and assist with their rehabilitation. 

Make an appointment to visit the arts centre, Monday to Friday 8am to 1:30pm, by contacting the manager of the Creative Work Centre, Bryan Reiri on 02 6338 3295. ​

Girrawaa Arts Centre
Girrawaa Arts Centre
Girrawaa Arts Centre
Girrawaa Arts Centre
Last updated:

13 Mar 2024

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We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future. 

Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.

You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.

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