The Onyx Art Therapy Project is a 7-month Art Therapy group programme supporting women prisoners from overseas in HMP Holloway. The project encourages group members to develop their creativity and visual language within a safe and therapeutic space, creating a rich dialogue of cultural exchange whilst employing therapeutic principles. The project assists the women to support and improve their well-being whilst in prison. It aims to reduce the risk of reoffending upon release by offering a space in which participants can process emotions and past trauma through art making and group processes.
Women from overseas account for around a quarter of Holloway’s population and face specific hardships including isolation, inequality of opportunity, displacement, past abuse and trauma. Many women from overseas held in HMP Holloway require intervention to support their mental health needs and well-being. The Onyx project provides therapeutic support for these women who often have not had access to intervention of this kind. Furthermore, as art therapy uses art making as its primary mode of communication, it is a suitable therapeutic intervention for those with limited English language.
The Onyx Art Therapy Project commenced following a successful pilot project. The project will be evaluated upon completion and may be used to inform further therapeutic intervention of this kind with women prisoners from overseas. The project is run by qualified Art Psychotherapists and is supported by PHAST, Feminist Review Trust, and Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust.