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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  • My Path

    Millennium Gallery, Sheffield

Lost at Sea, HM Prison Hull, Painting, 2020

My Path

Art by People in the Criminal Justice System

Millennium Gallery, Sheffield

20 May – 20 June 2021
Curated by a group of young people in partnership with Sheffield Youth Justice Service

Admission to this exhibition is free. Please pre-book your visit to Millennium Gallery via Eventbrite – these free tickets will allow you entry to My Path and all other Millennium Gallery exhibitions.

My Path is a creative walk through art from the criminal justice system. Each of the 61 artworks on display was made by someone in prison, a secure hospital, a young offender institution or on probation. This will be the first Koestler Arts exhibition in Yorkshire.

The pieces have been chosen from over 300 artworks entered into the 2020 Koestler Awards from Yorkshire. Many of the artworks, therefore, were created during the height of the pandemic in establishments that had 23-hour lockups in place.

After the main exhibition in Sheffield, some of the artworks will travel north for a display at Ripon Museums in summer 2021.

About the Curation: Sheffield Youth Justice Service

Join us for a special virtual event, The Making of ‘My Path: Art by people in the criminal justice system, on Wednesday 2 June 2021.

The exhibition includes captions with some of the stories behind the artwork. There are also insights from the curators – all young people working with Sheffield Youth Justice Service (SYJS).

Sheffield-based artist Sarah Jane Palmer led the group of young people and staff from SYJS through a series of socially distanced curation workshops. The group brought unique insights and imagination to the artwork selection. Themes include time, journeys and the future of the planet.

SYJS’s mission is to reduce youth crime. Their work involves providing access to services for young people to divert them from offending. Where offending has occurred, SYJS encourage young people to repair harm and rebuild relationships with their communities. They also work closely with parents and carers to support behaviour change.

SYJS logo

About the Venue: Millennium Gallery

Museums Sheffield is the independent charity that runs three of the city’s leading museums and galleries: Millennium Gallery, Graves Gallery and Weston Park Museum.

The Millennium Gallery is one of Sheffield’s flagship cultural venues. Each year it hosts a wide-ranging temporary exhibition bringing the best in art and design to the city and showcasing the region’s own creative talents.


As you move through the exhibition you may hear fragments of music and poetry. Click on the link below to choose your soundtrack and listen to the tracks in full.

Online Gallery