Art Inspired by Prison Lullabies

Earlier this year, Atlantic Voice’s Angela Antle dedicated an episode of the radio show to a fascinating project at the Clarenville Women’s Correctional Centre in Newfoundland: The Lullaby Project.

Newfoundland artist Robyn Flannigan illustrated scenes inspired by an Atlantic Voice episode

Earlier this year, Atlantic Voice's Angela Antle dedicated an episode of the radio show to a fascinating project at the Clarenville Women's Correctional Centre in Newfoundland: The Lullaby Project. 

The prison is a troubled place. Two women died there in 2018, and reports on their deaths have yet to be released. But through music, some of the women are finding hope and healing. Two volunteers, Jan and Buley, have begun a chapter of Carnegie Hall's Lullaby Project there. 

In honour of International Women's Day, CBC East Coast commissioned Newfoundland artist Robyn Flannigan to create four illustrations inspired by the women in the episode and their touching stories. 

Robyn says a theme that immediately stood out to her was the sense of community that the women found while working on the project. 

"I wanted to illustrate this by using the visuals of multiple hands lighting tea candles around the song sheet they wrote together. As well, I added in the beach rock and flowers that were placed in the middle of the circle they stand in before they begin writing."

"The second theme that really jumped out at me was vulnerability," Robyn says. "We often think that people who end up in correctional facilities are tough or even heartless, and this podcast certainly shatters those stereotypes."

A sketch of one woman's tearstained notebook and crumpled tissue contrasts a mugshot-style image of its owner. "Together, these items paint a conflicting picture that shatters the audience's pre-existing opinions on people who are imprisoned."

Another theme captured in Robyn's illustrations is memory. This image "captures the women's memories that this project brought back to life."

Robyn illustrated photographs inspired by the small things the women talked about. 

"The moon outside their bedroom window, the birds in the sky, their families, etc. I think it's impactful to show these memories in the form of photographs taped up with their lullaby sheet next to a jail window. This imagery shows hope for their futures. It's a reminder that there is more to their lives than the walls they are confined to."

Robyn Flannigan is an illustrator who lives in St. John's, Newfoundland. Her work centres around the female experience.