‘The Taffy’ Prison Drawings


That The Taffy used drawing as a distraction from the boredom inherent in prison life is clear. Several works executed on paper bearing the Ministry of Justice livery are essentially abstract typographic pieces. Perhaps not the artist’s preferred choice of canvas, he was after all serving a 22-month prison sentence for painting trains, nevertheless the paper’s insignia complements and actually serves to complete these works.

The map pieces are yet more complex. Geometric forms have replaced any semblance of lettering. Some display an almost overwhelming degree of hatching, others a fascination with minutiae – a myriad of thousands of shapes, reminiscent of circuit boards, or better yet erroneous digital displays. The ones and zeros are not completely aligned it would appear.

There has of course been an interest in outsider art, prison art and the like in recent years. Often there is a strong correlation with the creative process and some form of mental illness. However, these works betray a different sensibility, that of a man who’s trying to escape the drone of incessant prison chatter and who is influenced by the art that got him incarcerated in the first place. I’m certain that there was a yearning to recreate some of these sketches on grander surfaces but in prison, needs must.

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