cHAOTIC highways of Punjab and sculptors' workshops in Assam seem a million miles from Barlinnie prison, but the art world has connected all three.

Readers in the East End of Glasgow might already have seen Keep on Trucking, a display of Indian truck art that is visiting locations around the city over the next four years.

It was created by writers and artists from HMP Barlinnie, who came together to curate and design the display which focuses on Indian truck art with beautiful objects from Glasgow Museums' collection.

What those who have seen it won't know is that the exhibition was inspired by Patricia Allan, curator of world cultures at Glasgow Museums.

She said: "The South Asian collection is our biggest world cultures collection but it was really industrial art, mostly acquired from the 1888 Great Exhibition so it has been difficult to work with.

"There are beautiful pieces in there but it's not accessible.

"I got the money from the Art Fund's Renew programme, funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. It attempts to inspire museums to expand existing holdings in an innovative way and to engage with communities."

Patricia's aim was to create a capsule collection of contemporary Indian folk, street and fine art with work collected from West Bengal, Punjab and Assam, regions with links to Glasgow's South Asian diaspora roots.

This modern collection of Indian art will go on show in an exhibition at Tramway in 2016 but before then can be seen at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre in Nitshill.

Three vibrantly painted and decorated truck backs made in Punjab represent the zest for life and exuberant bursts of colour in this part of the world.

"The Art Fund was insistent that it was art we collected, not craft," explains Patricia.

"Tribal art is common but there's also street art. We started looking at it and then came up with the trucks. Truck art is a very distinctive art style.

TRUCK artists are not professional artists, they are truck painters.

"After a lot of difficulty finding someone who knew what we wanted we met Tejinder Singh, the owner of a garage in Sirhind."

A father and son in a village in West Bengal made the dhokra art, a fast-disappearing process of lost wax casting, with centuries-old techniques using recycled scrap metal.

Most of the tools and materials are traditional and the firing is done is open brick kilns.

"Nobody has made these particular collections before," says Patricia.

"We went to India and filmed and interviewed the artists last year, so we have this archive we can dip into.

"We're thinking of a tour at GMRC which would involve people using iPads which would show clips of edited films."

With a background in archeology and anthropology, Patricia was keen to find work from Assam in the north-east of India.

"It was difficult to find Assamese artists - the first year there was a political uprising in Assam and then there were terrible floods so we couldn't go there," admits Patricia.Wooden sculptures from Assam perfectly reflect the contemporary life and art of the region.

Three paintings of truck art by New Delhi artist Aditi Saigal complement the collection, along with textiles made in Bihar and Nagaland in Assam. It was when Patricia spoke at a meeting about her Renew project that Claire Coia, Open Museum curator at Glasgow Museums, had a light-bulb moment.

Explaining the birth of Keep on Trucking, Claire says: "The family contact unit at Barlinnie had been in touch and was looking for support because there's a proven reduction in reoffending with prisoners who connect with the family or the community.

"The guys from Barlinnie curated and helped with the design of the travelling display."

About 25 objects from the world cultures and natural history collections relating to India were sourced, from an eight-foot tigerskin rug to tiny figurines and beautiful silver bracelets.

CLAIRE says: "They were taken to Barlinnie where prisoners working on the project decided what to put on display and wrote the labels and interpretation panels.

"The artwork on the base of the plinth of the travelling display was done by the guys at Barlinnie."

Keep on Trucking is touring Glasgow. Check the Glasgow Life website to see when it is near you.

l On Friday, at Scotland Street School Museum, celebrate Glasgow Museums' Renew collection of art from South Asia on Commonwealth Day.