Britain's most violent prisoner abandons art

Charles Bronson.
Charles Bronson.

The man branded Britain's most violent prisoner has abandoned his sketch pad in protest after prison guards banned him from sending drawings to friends.

Charles Bronson, who was imprisoned for life after threatening to kill an art teacher in 1999, has become a prolific artist since first being jailed for armed robbery in 1974.

Controversially, his surreal multicoloured drawings have sold for up to £1,000 and been displayed in galleries across London and the south east.

The 61-year-old has spent the last 40 years in jail - save just four months and nine days between crimes - with 36 of those years spend in solitary confinement due to his "aggression" and serial hostage taking.

During his time in solitary, Bronson's "greatest pleasure" was sketching and painting hundreds of artworks, many of which depict his life "inside his cage".

One painting has even been displayed at Angel Tube station in London - a move that provoked sharp criticism from the National Victims Association.

But on Wednesday, Bronson proclaimed he has stopped drawing after prison chiefs at maximum security HMP Woodhill in Buckinghamshire banned him from sending work out because it is being sold on "for a profit".

Supporters of Bronson - whose donated pictures have raised tens of thousands of pounds for charities - have warned there could be consequences if he is now sitting idle in his cell with nothing to do.

A spokesman for the Charlie Bronson Appeal Fund said on Wednesday: "We have a very important message from Charlie.

"According to Woodhill staff, someone wrote in saying they had sold a piece of his art for charity.

"Subsequently, they stopped anything containing art from going out.

"Charlie has asked us to let people know that he will not be writing any more letters at all, and is sending no mail while this is the case.

"He now has even more time on his hands as he is not doing any art or writing or replying to letters.

"We'd like to ask the obvious - that people don't write to Charlie asking for art or advising him of art sold. It may be for the best of intentions but does not help Charlie in his position."

It is the second time HMP Woodhill officials have barred Bronson from sending out his work, after a brief ban in 2010.

Whenever he is banned from drawing he is known to take 'a turn for the worse', supporters claim.

Art work by Charles Bronson.
Art work by Charles Bronson.

Despite being held at maximum security HMP Woodhill in Buckinghamshire, the muscle-bound convict, who is said to do 2,000 push-ups a day, claims his violent days ended more than a decade ago - and recently passed a Violence Reduction Programme.

However, supporters are worried the ban will set him on edge.

A source said: 'Charlie uses art and writing as a way to relax - he needs to be creative to keep a lid on things, so this ban is not helpful at all.'

Writing recently, Bronson said: "My days of violence and crime ended well over a decade ago.

"I could make a good living out of my art."

- Daily Mail

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