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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  • 100 Years On

    An Art Trail by Women in Prison

Different But The Same, Atkinson Secure Unit, Mixed Media, 2017

100 Years On: An Art Trail by Women in Prison

Throughout 2018 Koestler Arts displayed artwork by women in prison in key sites across the UK.

Keeping Fagan Busy , HM Prison & YOI Low Newton, Mixed media, 2017

These ‘corridors of power’ displayed 88 artworks by 54 women who have entered artwork and poetry into the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Koestler Awards.

> Click here to see a selection of the artworks in the art trail.

> Click here to see work from the art trail for sale

The project played a part in the Vote 100 celebrations which took place throughout 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which granted women the right to vote.

Many suffragettes were famously imprisoned 100 years ago and this trail looked to shine a light on the challenges faced by women in prison in 2018, put their challenges on the agenda of policy makers and catalyse improvement in the treatment and rehabilitation of women prisoners.

We are delighted with the legacy of the project, with all sales proceeds going towards helping us to recognise, award and celebrate the artistic achievement, excellence and commitment of a woman leaving prison next year through the Helen Cadbury Scholarship Award. This Award will provide the scholar with bespoke, one-to-one support of a trained arts professional for a year, as well as a monetary prize and an arts bursary.

Many establishments have bought their art trail artworks, and we are thrilled that artwork made by women in prison will be permanently displayed in venues including the Old Bailey, Durham Constabulary Headquarters, the North Wales Women’s Centre, Telegraph Media Head Office, Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology and the Pankhurst Centre.

100 Years On at the Supreme Court

5 June – 14 December

32 paintings, drawings, sculptures and poems were specifically chosen to be displayed in the Supreme Court on both the lower ground floor and in the Lobby situated outside Courtroom One on the second floor. All artwork displayed was entered into the Koestler Awards by female prisoners, and the display was the first chance to see artwork from the 2018 Awards, as well as work from the past two years.

We were very excited to have the Supreme Court joining 83 other venues participating in the art trail, including institutions, policy-makers, educators, police stations, courts and prisons.

To learn more about the art trail:

>click here to download the 100 Years On leaflet

>click here to download the 100 Years On press release

Some of the exhibited pieces are for sale on our online shop.

Venues and Artworks