“His paintbrush is made from his own hair. His paints are the coloured pigments from M&M sweets. His canvas is the back of a used greetings card and his studio is a cell that measures seven feet by 11 feet. This is the world of Donny Johnson, sentenced to life in California in 1980 for a murder committed during an argument over drugs when he was a teenager.” -Duncan Campbell, The Observer, October 2021.
The exhibition has been put together to accompany Painted with my Hair - a multi-faceted featurelength documentary for the BBC about the controversial US practice of long term solitary confinement and of how one remarkable prisoner survived this ‘penal torture’ through writing and art. Directed by Mike Dibb, the film will premiere on October 31st at 10:30pm on BBC 4. This touring exhibition showcases just some of this talented prisoner’s letters and beautiful little paintings, for which he was denied conventional art materials and forced to make brushes from his hair and synthesise his colours from M&Ms and Skittles.
Dates: 25th October - 4th November
Times: 10:00 – 18:00
Location: River Room, Riverside Studios