A Surface Design intervention for adult inmates infected with HIV/AIDS

Nel, Nicole



Media & Communications Design


This research paper focuses on an educational Surface Design Intervention (SDI) for inmates. It covers the present day situation, from 2006 to 2007, in a Western Cape correctional facility, regarding the needs of a selected group of inmates. This group of 20 inmates consists of 10 HIV/Aids positive and 10 HIV/Aids negative participants.

The research paper argues that there is potential to plan, design and implement an educational SDI, in a group work situation, with these HIV/Aids infected and affected prison inmates. This is done in order to establish the SDI as a skills development programme and a therapeutic intervention and income generating resource. In addition, this research study aims to understand and interpret how the various inmate participants, in a social setting, construct the world around them and what effect and impact the SDI has on them.

This intervention is facilitated by two qualified art therapists and involves the use of different art materials through which the prison inmates express and explore their thoughts, feelings and concerns in a safe, contained and supportive space. The health and wellness literature provided the conceptual scaffolding to frame the SDI against. The literature indicated that a holistic approach to rehabilitation and instruction is vital to help inmates function optimally in daily life.

Ultimately the SDI process focuses on its value regarding identity formation, emotional expression, and ethical development. The research paper concludes that oppositional discourses present in the lives of these prisoners can, and indeed should be reconciled in order for them to achieve a positive affirmation of their status. These polarities, once bridged, offer a moderating influence on these prisoners’ lives, which contribute to their wellbeing and success both inside and potentially outside of prison.

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