Built in 1911, these walls have witnessed over a century of "penitence". Good, bad or indifferent.
It would seem that walking along the prison walls is the coldest walk from your vehicle to the work place. The walls catch every breath of wind and magnifies it so that the cold chills you to the bone. Over time and with experience, staff learn to develop a sensitivity to what is happening on the other side of the wall before they even step through the entrance. That "gut feeling" is strong here. You know intuitively if it's going to be a good day or a bad day.
Acrylic on canvas, ( 36" x 24"),
People watching people....and so much more. Tower duty is a four hour shift and as a Correctional Officer your duty is three-fold: Protect the public; Protect the offenders and Protect the institution. It's an armed post where you may be called upon to use lethal force to fulfill one of those obligations. The chain-link and razor-ribbon looks threatening, but it's the little fence that marks out-of-bounds and that requires a response. Tower duty is about relationships - who's hanging with who; who's the king-pin this week; who's being shunned; who's got a new "crew"? A wise guard realizes that a tower has a 360 degree view and not all of the action takes place in the yard. Threats come from the outside too.
Acrylic on canvas (48"x24") 2017, From the Mann Art Gallery Permanent Collection. Third prize at the 2017 Prince Albert Winter Festival Juried Art Show.
The two firsts:
First day on the job - no idea of what is behind the walls
First day of retirement - I know all too well what is behind those walls.
Acrylic on canvas )20"x16") 2016
BEHIND THE RAZOR RIBBON: A Correctional Officer's Perspective
After spending almost three decades working in Corrections, I felt compelled to illustrate some of my personal feelings and experiences.
Always a complex subject, what goes on "behind the walls" is of great curiosity to many people and frequently misunderstood. This body of work is a small reflection of what I, as a Correctional Officer, experienced and saw.
Some of these pieces are very serious and some are definitely tongue-in-cheek. It is my hope that these images help you understand that where there is bad, there can be good; where there is threat, there can be comradery; where there is anger, there can be simple humour.
A Penitentiary cannot be defined simply by it's brick walls and iron bars. There are over 1,000 human beings living and working on either side of the razor ribbon - a community - but strictly governed by rule and law.
Watch for the book "BEHIND THE RAZOR RIBBON - A CORRECTIONAL OFFICER'S PERSPECTIVE" will be release in the
fall of 2019. The entire body of work consisting of 29 images of Pat's art depicting his career as a
Correctional Officer and accompanied with detailed narratives will be Available through
Friesen Press Books and Amazon.ca