Unlock the talent inside

Since 1962 the Koestler Awards have played a unique, national role in motivating prisoners, secure hospital patients and immigration detainees to take part in the arts. The Koestler Awards are simple and powerful – we reward achievement, build self-confidence and broaden horizons for some of society’s most disadvantaged and marginalised people.

Our work harnesses the uniquely transformative power of the arts to help individuals learn the skills and gain the confidence to live creative, positive and productive lives. Each year we receive more than 7,000 entries from over 3,500 entrants across the UK in 52 categories. More than 2,000 Awards are granted by over 100 esteemed judges, and each year culminates in a curated exhibition at Southbank Centre which showcases the incredible power of the arts to transform lives.

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Archive

  • Koestler Arts Christmas Card 2020

    Set of 10 A5 cards featuring an original artwork by a Koestler Awards Entrant

    Sold with envelopes

    Message inside: Season’s Greetings

    210 x 148mm

    Artwork: Merry Cubistmas, HM Prison Thameside, Commended Award for Painting

    Please note: If you would like to buy a larger number of cards (40+) please email sales@koestlerarts.org.uk

    Koestler Arts is committed to reducing climate change. This Christmas Card was printed using a 100% waterless process, in a factory powered by 100% renewable energies, that produces zero waste to landfill, and is beyond Carbon Neutral in its impact on the environment.


  • No Lockdown in the Imagination poster

    Poster from our 2020 outdoor installation at the Southbank Centre, No Lockdown in the Imagination.

    No Lockdown in the Imagination is currently on show until 13th December.

    A3 (29.7 x 42 cm)

    Sold unframed.

    Featured Image:
    Through the Keyhole
    HM Prison Kilmarnock
    Mixed Media 2020

    Click below to see the full image.


  • Beyond Words

    Beyond Words is a debut collection of poems by Jason N Smith from before, during and after time within the justice system. The book contains both spoken word and page poetry about life inside prison, life experiences and life overstandings.


  • Crime and Consequence

    Crime & Consequence – what should happen to people who commit criminal offences? is a collection of essays and creative reflections on an important question in our society. Contributors offer their lived and professional experience of the criminal justice system to offer answers which get to the heart of the matter. They explore how best to ensure that societal responses to crime tackles the causes and consequences. They made a strong case for investment in alternatives to prison and in a range of interventions and approaches which may better solve some of the underlying issues. Above all this collection invites the reader to think about the question and to consider their own role in being part of the answer.

    See below for more details.


  • Koestler Voices: New Poetry from Prisons – Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

    Poetry is the biggest category in the annual Koestler Awards, receiving nearly 1000 entries a year. While art materials can be difficult to get hold of in prison, everyone is entitled to paper and something to write with. Koestler Voices: New Poetry from Prisons – Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 present some of the best poetry from the 2016/2017 and 2018/2019 Koestler Awards with forewords by Benjamin Zephaniah (Vol. 1) and George The Poet (Vol. 2).


  • Large Postcards – Crazy Faces

    Pack of 6 A5 cards

    148 mm x 210 mm

    Artwork: Crazy Faces, HM Prison & Young Offender Institution Rochester

    Displayed at Southbank Centre exhibition, Another Me


  • Large Postcards – Spring in China

    Pack of 6 A5 cards

    148 mm x 210 mm

    Artwork: Spring in China, The Spinney (secure mental health unit)

    Clara Alman Platinum Award for Watercolour and Gouache

    Displayed at Southbank Centre exhibition, Another Me


  • Koestler Voices: New Poetry from prisons – Vol. 2

    Poetry is the biggest category in the annual Koestler Awards, receiving nearly 1000 entries a year. While art materials can be difficult to get hold of in prison, everyone is entitled to paper and something to write with. Koestler Voices: New Poetry from Prisons – Vol. 2 presents some of the best poetry from the 2018 and 2019 Koestler Awards, with a foreword by George The Poet.


  • Darkness at Noon

    A brilliant new translation of Koestler’s long-lost original manuscript Darkness at Noon. A chilling and unforgettable 20th century classic.

    From a prison cell in an unnamed country run by a totalitarian government Rubashov reflects. Once a powerful player in the regime, mercilessly dispensing with anyone who got in the way of his party’s aims, Rubashov has had the tables turned on him. He has been arrested and he’ll be interrogated, probably tortured and certainly executed.

    Darkness at Noon is as gripping as a thriller and a seminal work of twentieth-century literature. Published in Great Britain in 1940, it was feted by George Orwell, went on to be translated into thirty languages and is considered the finest work of pre-eminent European master, Arthur Koestler. And yet the novel’s worldwide reputation has, for over seventy years, been based on the first incomplete and inexpert English translation – Koestler’s original manuscript was lost when he fled the German occupation of Paris in 1940.

    In 2016, a student discovered that long-lost manuscript in a Zurich archive. At last, with the publication of this new translation of the rediscovered original, Koestler’s masterpiece can be experienced afresh and in its entirety for the first time.

    The new translation by Philip Boehm.

    Read full product description below.


  • Pencil

    Buy One, Give One  – when you buy one of our pencils you’re actually buying two: one for you, and one for a prisoner in a UK Prison.

    As well as raising funds to continue Koestler Art’s work, your purchase will encourage someone to tell their story, and gain skills through writing, fine art, design or music.

    This pencil features a quote from a Koestler Exhibited Artist.

    Designed and made in the UK, produced from recycled pallets by a small family business.

    Available in blue or red.


  • Mug

    Unlock The Talent Inside gloss finish mug.

    Available in blue, green, pink and yellow.

    Dimensions: 9.5 x 8cm; capacity: 10oz.


  • Tote Bag

    Unlock The Talent Inside tote bag in 100% cotton.

    Dimensions: 37 x 43cm.

    Designed and made in the UK.


  • Prison: A Survival Guide

    Prison: A Survival Guide is a cult guide to UK prisons by Carl Cattermole – now fully updated and featuring contributions from female and LGBTQI prisoners, as well as from family on the outside.

    Contains:
    Blood – but not as much as you might imagine.
    Sweat – and the prisons no longer provide soap.
    Tears – because prison has created a mental health crisis.
    Humanity – and how to stop the institution destroying it.

    Carl Cattermole is a young ex-inmate and legal reform campaigner. He spent time in five different UK prisons and, sharing cells with international gangsters, drug addicts, psychopaths and sex offenders, he formulated his idea for a book to help inmates cope with the unique challenges of prison life. He has contributed to the BBC, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, and the Mirror on the subject of prisons and prison reform. Carl was a Flash Fiction and Short Story judge for the 2019 Koestler Awards.

    Read full product description below.


  • The Good Prison: Conscience, Crime and Punishment

    The Good Prison: Conscience, Crime and Punishment sets an agenda for radical change in the philosophy and practice of penal justice and prison management. Drawing on many examples from his research of innovative activities in prisons, including those of the Koestler Trust, Gerard Lemos argues that conscience formed by family relationships and reinforced through community life is crucial.

    Read full product description below.


  • Curing Violence

    Curing violence: How we can become a less violent society is a collection of essays curated by the Monument Fellowship that seek to not only describe the problem of violence in our society but also to offer solutions.

    The contributors make the case that reducing violence is a responsibility for everyone in society: for those in power, in both government and in the formal criminal justice system; but also for all of us in our schools and hospitals, in the arts and in our civic society, on our streets, and in our homes.

    Read full product description below.


  • I’m Still Here: Art from the 2018 Koestler Awards

    This is the first year that we have produced a catalogue for our UK exhibition. I’m Still Here has been curated by five prisoners’ families, who selected works from the 2018 Koestler Awards to reflect their experiences of supporting loved ones inside.

    Containing all of the artworks in the show as well as this year’s Named Awards, the catalogue gives a further insight into the curators’ selections.

    “I hope that the artworks we’ve chosen show that, even in the darkest time, there is always hope, and something to build upon and look forward to.” Janet, curator.

    Read full product description below.


  • Notebook

    This notebook features a quote from a Koestler Exhibited Artist.

    Available with plain or lined pages.

    Designed and made in the UK.


  • Koestler Voices: New Poetry from Prisons – Vol. 1

    Poetry is the biggest category in the annual Koestler Awards, receiving nearly 1000 entries a year. While art materials can be difficult to get hold of in prison, everyone is entitled to paper and something to write with. Koestler Voices: New Poetry from Prisons – Vol. 1 presents some of the best poetry from the 2016 and 2017 Koestler Awards, with a foreword by poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

    [perfectpullquote align="full" bordertop="false" cite="" link="" color="" class="" size=""]When you engage with this publication you are not simply reading a collection of poems, you are going places. These poems are absurd and strange, they are light and heavy, they are intense, intellectual, and playful. They are honest. – Benjamin Zephaniah[/perfectpullquote] [perfectpullquote align="full" bordertop="false" cite="" link="" color="" class="" size=""]The poems in this anthology are compelling human documents, offering a unique insight into the rhythms of life behind prison walls, and imagined vistas beyond. They are as various in shape and mood as the minds that made them. – Sarah Howe[/perfectpullquote]

  • Life Beyond Crime

    Life Beyond Crime brings together in an insightful and passionate debate, through prose, poems and pictures, the assembled first-hand experience and wisdom of scores of contributors responding to the question, What do those at risk of offending, prisoners and ex-offenders, need to learn?

    Contributors include past and present recipients of Koestler Awards, current and former prisoners; criminal justice practitioners; educators and academics; as well writers from the voluntary and arts worlds including theatre director Phyllida Lloyd, lyricist Sir Richard Stilgoe and sculptor Sir Antony Gormley.

    Read full product description below.


  • Doing Time with the Arts

    This book celebrates the Koestler Trust’s 50th Birthday. For half a century the Koestler Trust has encouraged the creativity of those who find themselves behind bars. And that creativity is boundless, fuelled by powerful feelings of hope and despair, love and loss, longing and remorse. It takes as many forms as the emotions and skills that underlie it – poignant portraits, eloquent poems, imaginary landscapes, ingenious objects – and in making this work public, the Koestler Trust showcases an astonishing spectrum of inventiveness and talent.

    This book was first published by the Koestler Trust to coincide with its 2012 National Exhibition Free: Arts by offenders, secure patients and detainees, curated by Sarah Lucas.

    Read full product description below.


  • A Shining Future

    A Shining Future: Writing and Prints from Secure Hospitals in the North West of England is an anthology first published to coincide with its 2014 Koestler Exhibition for the North West: Snail Porridge, curated by Bob and Roberta Smith. It reveals young people’s response to some of the ingenious, moving and witty writing generated by the 2013 Koestler Awards in the North West.

    The Koestler Trust and Castlefield Gallery worked with a group of young people from HM Prison & Young Offender Institution Thorn Cross in Warrington, engaging them with poems and stories by people in other prisons ans secure hospitals in their local area. Through workshop, kindly funded by the the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the group read and discussed the writing. They then learned linocutting techniques and used these to engage and respond to he texts. This anthology shares both the resulting linocuts and the writing that inspired them.

    Read full product description below.