As Indigenous incarceration increases nationally, Confined 15 reinforces the importance of connection to Country and the urgent need for change

The Torch Confined 15 Thelma Beeton Love and Support 2024With a diverse array of 430 artworks by 380 artists, Confined 15 provides a dedicated space for First Nations people who have experienced incarceration in Victoria to share their stories, culture and lived experiences through the artworks they produce.

Presented by The Torch, the 15th annual exhibition will be on display at the Glen Eira City Council Gallery and online from 3 May to 2 June 2024.

Confined 15 serves as a poignant reflection on the disproportionate representation of First Nations Australians in our criminal legal system, underscoring the urgent need for change,” said The Torch program founder and Creative Director Kent Morris.

As another Closing the Gap report signals an increase in Indigenous incarceration nationally, The Torch continues to significantly reduce First Nations reoffending rates in Victoria through a program built in partnership with those who participate in it.”

“The last week of Confined 15 coincides with National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June). The 2024 theme, Now More Than Ever, is a compelling reminder to all of us that no matter what, the fight for justice and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will – and must – continue.”

“Inspired by a strong desire to remove themselves from the legal system and incarceration, participants continue to develop and expand The Torch program and now have greater access to cultural information, post release skills building, training and employment, and art industry based economic development support,” said Morris

Exhibiting artist Stacey Edwards is a Taungurung/Boon Wurrung woman with traditional connections to the Melbourne region. Describing herself as a grandchild of the Stolen Generation, Stacey has been exploring her identity through art and culture more recently as an adult.

In 2013 Stacey started working at the Koorie Heritage Trust where she met an Elder who helped her understand her family connections. “The Elder told me that I am Taungurung/Boon Wurrung. Since that day I don’t paint dots anymore,” said Edwards.

“My inspiration is the beautiful designs and patterns from traditional artefacts of my ancestors. Painting diamonds is healing for me. And now I can pass that healing down to my children and future grandchildren.”

Confined 15 features an extraordinary range of paintings and three-dimensional artworks including carved wooden sculptures, woven baskets, bush dyed silk scarves, cultural ceramic homewares, a painted pair of sneakers, and an array of shields, boomerangs, clapsticks and painted yidakis.

The central spaces of Gallery 1 exhibit artworks that directly express a spiritual, cultural, and ancestral connection to Country and highlight their healing and generative impacts.

Gallery 2 features paintings and wood carvings that provide a window into the continuing importance of cultural tools and objects, and their unique designs and functions, particularly in relation to understanding and sharing cultural identity.

All works will be available for purchase from the gallery and online with 100% of the sales going to the artist. For participants, the creation and sale of their artworks is part of the rehabilitation process that helps build confidence, social capital, economic stability and pathways to reconnect with the community.

CEO Susannah Day says income earned from the program provides participants with the ability to realise their potential and change their circumstances while in prison and when connecting back to the community. “Participants are able to provide support to their families on the outside, increasing stability and helping to alleviate ongoing socio-economic disadvantage,” said Day.

They are also able to stand more confidently on their own two feet and avoid common barriers upon release from prison such as finding and maintaining affordable and safe accommodation. This decreases recidivism and opens new pathways towards education and employment with many positive intergenerational impacts,” said Day.

Confined 15 can be viewed in-person at the Glen Eira Town Hall Gallery and online from 3 May to 2 June 2024. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Thelma Beeton, Palawa people, Love and Support, 2024, acrylic on canvas, 76 x 106 cm