Detainee and prisoner art showcased at national exhibition

  • 22 Sep 2016 14:38
A new exhibition of over 254 pieces of art created by detainees at secure establishments around the UK has now opened in London. It features six award winning pieces submitted by offenders in the care of G4S with a further 181 receiving recognition.
Detainee and prison art showcased at national exhibition

The UK’s leading detainee art charity, the Koestler Trust, has opened its annual showcase at London’s Royal Festival Hall, which was this year curated by the West Indian performance poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

Judges of this year’s awards include leading figures from the arts such as British ceramics maker Emma Bridgewater, London indietronica group Hot Chip, rapper Speech Debelle, conceptual visual artist Jeremy Deller and representatives from the Victoria and Albert museum among others.  The judges were asked to draw up a list of top entries from more than 6,700 submissions, who have received a collective total of £30,120 in prize money.

The Trust has been awarding, exhibiting and selling artwork by offenders, detainees and secure patients for more than 50 years with the aim of transforming the lives by inspiring people to take part in the arts. This year, a record breaking 187 submissions to the Koestler Trust from G4S establishments were recognised with awards with six of these selected to be shown during the eight-week exhibition.  

G4S Managing Director for Custodial and Detention services, Jerry Petherick, said:

“The process of making art and being creative is extremely powerful for prisoners and those in custody, inspiring them to make positive choices about their future and come to terms with their past. In taking part in this competition some prisoners may have discovered a hidden talent and for many this may well be the first time they have received any kind of accolade.

“While art can help build an individual’s sense of self-worth - an important step in rehabilitation - it can also build skills and some detainees return to their community able to make a living from their creativity.  I am extremely proud to say that G4S-managed HMP Parc is among the top three establishments to have submitted the most entries to the Trust. I am impressed with the quality of all the submissions from all establishments, which is not just a testament to the detainees hard work but also the support, dedication and encouragement given to them by the teams who work with them.”

Chief Executive of the Koestler Trust, Sally Taylor, said:

"We have seen over more than fifty years the transformative impact that art can have on detainees’ lives.  For many, taking part in the arts is an important way to come to terms with detention and our national exhibition and awards provide valuable recognition for detainees’ talent and creativity which might otherwise have gone unnoticed. 

“G4S establishments have a strong record of submitting pieces to the Trust which show prisoners’ latent potential being turned into tangible achievement and perhaps more encouragingly, reflects an organisation which takes the arts seriously as a means of learning and rehabilitation.”


About the exhibition

The exhibition will be displayed in the Yellow Room, Spirit Level Gallery at London’s Royal Festival Hall until 13 November 2016.

Detainees from four G4S establishments; HMP Parc, Oakwood and Birmingham, are represented at this year’s Koestler Trust exhibition.  

Detainees at four further establishments; HMP Altcourse and Rye Hill, Brook House and Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centres and Oakhill Secure Training Centres, received Koestler Trust awards. 


About the Koestler Trust     

The Koestler Trust is the UK's best-known prison arts charity. Founded by writer Arthur Koestler (author of the classic prison novel - Darkness at Noon), it has been awarding, exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients for over 50 years.

The Koestler Awards receive over 6,700 entries a year in 60 art forms from over 270 prisons and other establishments - inspiring offenders to take part in the arts, raise their aspirations and transform their lives. Koestler Exhibitions attract thousands of visitors at venues across the country- showing the public the talent and potential of offenders and people in secure settings. The Trust has no endowment or capital - its work depends entirely on grants and donations.