Corrective Services NSW

Zig Jaworowski

Zig Jaworowski, Dining In

Dining In 

Linocut print on paper, 2000

While developing his art practice in the Art Unit, Zig Jaworowski became fascinated with the repetitive rituals of life behind bars. His stark and graphic black-and-white linocut prints Dining In and Whispers depict observations of everyday social phenomena in gaol and the daily experiences of the inmates.

“Seeing the everyday comings and goings of gaol life with a fresh vision…the commonplace became as important and noteworthy as the dramatic. The social customs around me soon coalesced into a ‘gaol culture’. My project became the documentation of these social customs,” he explains.

In Dining In, the inmates’ queue for the evening meal at 3pm before being locked in their cells for the following 17 hours. Describing the frenetic scene Zig says: “Roll call is over and they all line up, plate in hand, for the evening meal. The queue is not a queue. It is a bustle. With plates thrust forward, hungry for food, competing for space. And hurried final conversations before lock-in – the urgency and the rush and squabble all crammed into the last few minutes of the day.”

Zig Jaworowski, Whispers


Linocut print on paper, 2000

Whispers depicts the aimless ‘hanging around’ and idle talk that passes the time when inmates are allowed for some precious fresh air out in the yard.

As Zig explains: “The gaol’s exercise yard is smaller than a tennis court. In such a small area private space is virtually non-existent. Tightly clustered groups of men form at the edges, conducting conversations with a furtiveness that comes from the feeling of constantly being watched. On the other hand, suspicion and gossip is the order of the day – could it be that these men are ‘talking out of school?’”

Originating as gestural drawings, these images are constructed as a series of montages intended to express movement and dynamism in time and space. In Dining In images are superimposed on one another to create the effect of frenetic activity.  In Whispers, the superimposed images are intended to express the inner feeling of constantly being watched and to emphasise the absence of private space.

As Zig explained about his work in several publications: “The prison world depicted in this art is no longer a Darwinian jungle populated by nightmarish visions. Instead it is like a strange new world with a culture all its own…this new form of expression is no longer a primordial scream for help but is more akin to a postcard from a foreign land.”

Zig’s lino prints were shown to great acclaim at an inmate art exhibition, Convictions, at COFA in 2005 and received significant media coverage. The show was officially opened by John Hatzistergos, Minister for Justice. 

After his release from gaol, Zig went on to study a Fine Arts degree at UNSW College of Fine Arts, majoring in printmaking. He has sold a large number of his prints. Zig’s artworks have also been used as cover art for several departmental publications.

Corrections Health Service Annual Report 2001/2002
Zig Jaworoski's artwork featured on the cover of Corrections Health Service Annual Report 2001/2002
Last updated:

03 Oct 2023

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