Inmates at Rebibbia, a prison in Rome, are getting access to a new kind of creative outlet—one that doesn't include crude prison tats and wall scratchitti: Wall clocks made from the product waste from leather producers that signify a literal translation of "doing time." Designer Sara Ferrari was invited by Artwo gallery to work with the institution's inmates to create a new creative outlet.
Back to the tattoo mention (it was strategically placed there, you know). Many prison tattoos you may come across feature a clock with no hands, which has come to represent several things. One being the seemingly neverending prison sentence and another the different way in which an inmate views and passes time in comparison to someone who isn't locked up. But once they leave their cells and jump back into the real world, the tattoos are still there. The designer wanted to give inmates another way to express themselves.
"With this project I would like to give prisoners the possibility to 'mark' a different kind of skin, a canvas to use as a carrier pigeon where to express their thoughts and ideas and send them outside. Wastes generated in the leather products industry will become the new skin to mark, a new precious surface where the prisoners' thoughts will become decorations of a furnishing object such a wall clock. Like this, the 'doing time' will gain a different meaning and it will be transformed from simply 'serving time' to 'making and thinking time.'"
The five dots aren't just decoration, either. "The dots, sometimes known as the quincunx, represent time done in prison," Ferrari says. "The four dots on the outside are seen as the four walls, and the dot on the inside represents the prisoner."