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GRAFT UNLEASHED @ KAG hoc • Kingston Art Group



GRAFT Unleashed: Bradley Denton

Bradley Denton is young, smart, complex, multi-skilled, spontaneous, eloquent, driven, mature beyond his years and not criminally minded. However, he is also a reminder to us all that any of us are only one poor decision away from losing our freedom.

When I met Bradley for the first time he told me he would like to make artwork about LGBT issues. I explained that we had made something previously, which was now away on exhibition. He told me that if that work had been in the workshop when he arrived, he would have felt represented. I was embarrassed without an excuse, knowing he was correct, however, I also knew that this very brave individual could change the fabric, perception and future direction of the workshop and Prison.

Within our challenging and multi-faceted male prison, differences can be exploited and taken advantage of, so many choose to guard their diversity. Uniquely, at only twenty-one, Bradley was openly gay and wanting to celebrate the fact. Prior to his stay with us Bradley had used the medium of Dance to express himself, sharing his ideas and emotions with a live audience. He transferred and utilised those same creative thinking and communicative skills into his visual art practice. This transformation was a pleasure to witness and perhaps intrinsic to his character, identity and persona as he freely morphs in a state of constant and exciting flux.

This is Bradley’s greatest skill and whilst ever he maintains a free thinking, open mind I am confident he will
successfully progress through life, positively impacting many on his journey.

He began a mission making drawings, paintings, collages and costumes all of which stimulated intrigue, challenged outdated perceptions and exposed uninformed opinions and ignorance and before Bradley left our establishment he completed a three-meter square LGBT mural on the workshop wall and a rainbow striped full length self-portrait walking down the corridor. Both these works ensure that any future gay student will always feel he has stepped into an enlightened and inclusive modern thinking environment.

In return, our cognitive intervention Art Course gave Bradley a new Visual voice and communicative tool which can influence and enrich many in his personal absence. However, Bradley’s impact and legacy does not end there, we wanted him to become a role model for all ex-offenders as they return enhanced into the community, with continued support from our progressive ‘through the gate’ team.

This Graft Unleashed exhibition is the first of many annual one man shows for the recently released as they re-engage, adding great value to society. Bradley was already Out and very confident about his sexuality, now he is also Out and free of the prison’s restrictions.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of Gay Sex, hence the title ‘Unleashed’ seems collectively appropriate, pertinent and powerful.

Graeme Brooks,
Humber Art Team

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