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.

Read more about us

Haroon Mirza and Gaia Fugazza judging Digital image

Judging the Koestler Awards

Our judges play a vital part in maintaining the impact and prestige of the Koestler Awards. By using their expertise to select award-winning artworks from over 7,000 entries, the judges help recognise and reward the skill, effort and ambition of people in the UK’s criminal justice system.

Louis Theroux judging the 2017 Koestler Awards

Entries are judged by over 100 experts from different fields. Judges have included Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, representatives from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Council, the National Theatre, the British Film Institute, Louise Galvin, Speech Debelle and Hot Chip.

We are very grateful to the judges who have given awards and feedback to 2019 Koestler Awards entrants, and the many more people who help compile shortlists and volunteer to give written feedback.

Click here to read our blog about the judging process.

Learn more about our fantastic team of judges below.

  • Animation

    Paul Bush

    Paul Bush is a filmmaker and animation director whose work has been shown in cinemas and on television all over the world. He lectures and teaches at many film schools, including the National Film School in the UK and Harvard in the USA.

  • Anthology

    Rishi Dastidar

    Rishi Dastidar is a poet and copywriter. He has written for a wide variety of brands during his career and was recently a judge for D&AD. His poetry has been published by the BBC, Financial Times and New Scientist amongst many others. A member of the Malika’s Poetry Kitchen collective, his debut collection Ticker-tape is published by Nine Arches Press, and a poem from it was included in The Forward Book of Poetry 2018. He also serves as chair of the writer development organization Spread The Word.

    Claire Dyer

    Claire Dyer’s latest novel, The Last Day, is published by The Dome Press. Her previous novels The Moment and The Perfect Affair and her short story Falling for Gatsby, are published by Quercus. Her poetry collections, Eleven Rooms and Interference Effects, are published by Two Rivers Press. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and is a regular guest on BBC Radio Berkshire’s Radio Reads with Bill Buckley. Claire also teaches creative writing at literary and writers’ festivals and for Bracknell & Wokingham College and runs Fresh Eyes, an editorial and critiquing service.

     

  • Arts Project

    Louise Shelly

    Louise Shelley is a London based Curator, for the last ten years she has been supporting collaborative practice through her work at The Showroom gallery and now as Curatorial Fellow at Cubitt, an artist run studio and gallery cooperative.

     

  • Beauty

    Carole Warburton

    Carole Warburton has been a nail technician for over 25 years. Since 1998 she has been doing the nails at London Fashion Week, and Caribbean Fashion Week in Jamaica since 2014.

  • Braille

    Eleanor Southwood

    Eleanor is a Local Councillor, and the Chair of RNIB, Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), the UK’s leading charity supporting blind and partially sighted people. We offer practical and emotional support to those that need us, so they can continue living life to the full.

  • Calligraphy

    Ewan Clayton

    Ewan has practised calligraphy for over 30 years and is a Professor in Design at the University of Sunderland. He is also a core member of staff at The Royal Drawing School.

    Edward Wates

    Edward Wates worked in academic publishing for over 40 years before retiring in 2018. His calligraphy has been exhibited internationally, and is held in collections in the UK, Germany, Pakistan and the US. He is an elected member of the Letter Exchange and serves on the Crafts Study Centre Acquisitions Committee. He is also Chair of the Irene Wellington Educational Trust and the Commonwork Trust.

  • Ceramics

    Emma Bridgewater

    Emma is a ceramic designer and founded her ceramics manufacturing company Emma Bridgewater in 1985. The company is one of the largest pottery manufacturers based entirely in the UK, with all of its products made and individually hand-decorated in its factory in Stoke-on-Trent.

    Tatiana Baskakova

    Tatiana is a visual artist exploring physicality of human body though performance and ceramic sculpture. She had co-founded Ceramics Studio Co-op in 2014 in London. The organisation provides arts and crafts education and supports ceramics artists at the early stage of their careers.

  • Choral Music

    Richard Harding

    Richard Harding is the Chairman of the Philharmonia Chorus. An independent symphony chorus based in London, the Philharmonia Chorus was founded in 1957 and quickly established itself as one of Europe’s leading symphony choruses. In a highly distinguished career, the Chorus has performed with nearly all the leading conductors of the age. The Chorus performs regularly in London, and over the next year will undertake tours to Spain and Germany.

  • Computer Generated Music

    Hot Chip

    Hot Chip was formed in 2000 by old school friends Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard, later joined by Felix Martin, Al Doyle and Owen Clarke. Their second album ‘The Warning’ was nominated for both a Grammy and the Mercury Prize in 2006. The follow-up, 2008’s ‘Made in the Dark’ made the UK Top 5 and produced a Top 10 single in “Ready for the Floor”. The band have gone on to release a further three albums as well as develop a reputation as skilled DJs and remixers.

  • Cover Version

    Sarah Liversedge

    Sarah Liversedge is a Grammy award winning independent music publisher who represents a very broad range of Artists, Songwriters, producers and lyricists. In 2017 Sarah was awarded a prestigious Gold Badge award by the Ivors Academy to acknowledge her contribution and commitment to her clients over the years.

    Stu Readman

    Stu Readman has been producing music programmes for young people and emerging artists in London for the past six years, firstly with the ArtsTrain programme and more recently at the Roundhouse. He is also an active musician who has performed alongside some of the UK’s finest instrumentalists.

  • Craft

    Martina Margetts

    Martina Margetts is an internationally-known writer, curator and lecturer on craft and design, teaches at the Royal College of Art and is formerly Editor of Crafts.

    Coco Sato

    Coco Sato is an award winning Artist, Author and Lecturer at Ravensbourne University London, known for her modern origami work celebrating heritage, culture and technology.

    Dorcas Magbadelo

    Dorcas Magbadelo is a London based illustrator whose work focuses on uplifting Black women and the cross sections of her identity as a Nigerian British woman. Alongside her illustration practice she currently co-runs pop up gift shop Ilé La Wà in Walthamstow

  • Digital Art

    Antonio Roberts

    Antonio Roberts is an artist and curator based in Birmingham, UK. His practices explore what ownership and authorship mean in an age impacted by digital technology. He is part of a-n’s Artist Council, is an Artist Advisor for Jerwood Arts and from 2014 – 2019 he was Curator at Vivid Projects where he produced the Black Hole Club artist development programme.

  • Drawing

    Dinah Casson

    Dinah Casson is a founder partner of award winning Casson Mann, a design company that has built museum galleries here in the UK as well as in the US, Russia, France and Italy. She has been a lecturer and external examiner at a number of design schools including the RCA. In 2018 she was awarded the CBE for services to the design industry.

    Terence Lambert

    Terence Lambert graduated in Fine Art from Batley School of Art. He is a fine artist/illustrator that works mainly in a digital format. Main themes of beauty, melancholy, isolation and anxiety run throughout his work. He is interested in and inspired by the human condition and social dynamics. He has himself received multiple Koestler awards and exhibited at the Southbank Centre on numerous occasions.

    Gaia Fugazza

    Gaia Fugazza is an artist working mainly with painting and performance. In the last years she has shown her work at the Royal Academy of Arts, The Zabludowicz Collection, Whitechapel Gallery, Baltic Triennal and Lisson Gallery.

    Jacqui McIntosh

    Jacqui McIntosh is Exhibitions Manager at Drawing Room – the only public and non-profit gallery in the UK and Europe dedicated to contemporary drawing. Independently, she has worked as a curator and writer in Ireland and the UK.

  • Fashion

    Juliet Ash

    Juliet has written widely on and lectured full time in Fashion and Dress History and Theory at many Art and Design Colleges. She currently is an occasional visiting tutor
    at the Royal College of Art.

  • Film

    Caragh Davison

    Caragh works at BFI NETWORK across their UK-Wide Talent Development Activity. Made possible through National Lottery funding, we collaborate with film organisations and leading cultural venues across the UK to provide short film and early feature development funding, industry-backed professional development and networking support to producers, writers and directors of all ages.

    Ruth Thompson

    Ruth Thompson is part of the Operations team for the Film Fund at BFI. Ruth’s role includes administering the two NETWORK funds, providing support to regional partners, and ensuring the processes and operational capabilities of the wider department run smoothly.

  • Flash Fiction and Short Story

    Courttia Newland

    Carl Cattermole

    Seven-foot-tall repeat offender, ex-prisoner in multiple countries, author of HMP A Survival Guide, award winning journalist. Loves Miami, imperfection, humans. Hates: smart phones, estate agents, RBKC.

  • Furniture

    Julian Chichester

    Julian’s company ‘Julian Chichester’ creates classically inspired, quality English furniture. The company design and manufacture remarkable furniture, which combines classic styles with contemporary accents.

  • Graphic Design

    Emily Wood & Ruth Sykes

    Graphic designers and educators Ruth Sykes and Emily Wood founded their graphic design consultancy REG in 2003. They combine their  design practice with teaching at Central Saint Martins (Ruth) and Kingston University (Emily). They are interested in how graphic design can improve living and learning, and work with arts organisations, charities, schools and colleges.

  • Graphic Novel

    Hannah Berry

    Hannah Berry is an award-winning graphic novelist, cartoonist and comics creator. She is the current UK Comics Laureate and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

  • Hairstyling

    Louise Galvin

    Top celebrity colourist and founder of her own luxury natural haircare range, Sacred Locks. Louise is based in her father’s famous Daniel Galvin Salon in London and has over 20 years’ experience in the haircare industry. She has coloured the hair of several fashion and beauty icons including Sophie Dahl, Samantha Cameron and Patsy Kensit.

  • Handmade Book

    Mike Abrahams

    Mike is a designer, artist book maker, curator and athlete. He calls all these activities ‘work’ as they are all as important as each other in his life. His work has taken him from Nepal to Greece, Singapore to Italy and from Jordan to Senegal – making logos and brands, books, events or just running. All aspects of his work influence his artist books which can be found in the collections of Tate and the V&A as well as around the world.

    Deb Rindl

    Deb is a graduate of Camberwell College of Arts where she studied Graphics & Illustration as a mature student. She creates artist’s books in small editions, mostly printed and made by hand, notable for their “sculptural” quality.

  • Handmade Greetings Card

    Melissa Hoffman

    Melissa is a textile designer and trends consultant who has worked for a variety of fashion and homewares companies, including illustrating cards for Tigerprint and Marks & Spencer.

    Ellen Kirkhope

    Now working as an independent Senior Creative Consultant across a wide range of brands, Ellen formerly gained her experience as a Creative Director working within the prominent trend agency, WGSN. There she led an international team of designers in creating trend-led, commercial design work and creative editorial content for a global audience. She holds an honours degree in Graphic Design and has a love of print and illustration. Her past roles have included working for Nickelodeon, Disney and Paperchase.

     

  • Hip Hop, Rap and Grime

    Paul Cree

    Paul Cree is a rapper , storyteller, poet and actor who co-runs hip-hop theatre company Beats & Elements. He’s performed around the UK at a variety of festivals and events such as Bestival and The Edinburgh Fringe and has featured on BBC 1Xtra and BBC London. He has written and performed 2 solo shows; A Tale From The Bedsit (2013) and The C/D Borderline (2016) as well as co-writing and performing in the critically acclaimed Beats & Elements shows, No Milk For The Foxes (2015) and the recently run, High Rise eState Of Mind (2019.)  In 2018 published his debut collection of poems and stories, entitled The Suburban with Burning Eye Books.

    Alex de Lacey

    Alex de Lacey is a lecturer in popular music at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is an active DJ in the grime scene, with a show on Mode FM alongside Over The Edge.

  • Instrumental Music

    Lafawndah 

    Lafawndah has established a reputation for boundary-smashing and pigeonhole-defying creativity. Influences on her debut album Ancestor Boy, released in March, stem from her peripatetic life as a global citizen. Her music is a bracing statement of intent, drawing from a personalised map of influence while resisting both categorisation and easy analysis.

    Toby Thatcher

    Toby Thatcher is an Australian/British conductor, director & founder of Ensemble Eroica and founder of Ensemble x.y. He is currently developing Zeitgeist, an online multimedia gallery of social and/or politically motivated contemporary work, primarily curated by a diverse roster of respected figures in a variety of fields.

  • Life Story

    Shaun Attwood

    Shaun Attwood is a speaker, author and activist based in London, who is banned from America for life. As an inmate in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail, he used a tiny pencil sharpened on a cell door to write the first prison blog, Jon’s Jail Journal. After winning a Koestler Award and getting on the Koestler Trust mentoring scheme, Shaun went on to publish 7 true crime books.

    Jane Corry

    Jane is a journalist (contributing regularly to The Daily Telegraph) and author of thrillers/domestic suspense. She is published by Penguin Books and her last three novels My Husband’s Wife, Blood Sisters and The Dead Ex were Sunday Times best-sellers. Her new Penguin novel I Looked Away came out in June 2019. All are partly set in prison. She was also writer in residence at HMP Grendon and HMP Spring Hill for three years.

  • Longer Fiction and Novel

    Martha Whittome

    Martha is a qualified teacher with over ten years’ experience in literary arts administration, running the Poetry Book Society.

    Anthony Whittome

    As editorial director of Hutchinson and Random House UK for many years, Anthony published work by a range of well-known authors of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

  • Matchsticks/Matchsticks & Mixed Media

    Andrew Wright

    Until recently, Andrew was Quality Assurance Manager at Republic Technologies (UK) Ltd. Having worked with a company that manufactured, and now sells, matches for over 30 years Andrew is very well qualified to judge the matchstick modelling categories. Andrew has judged the awards for a number of years and never ceases to be amazed at the time, effort and enthusiasm that is put into the entries.

  • Mixed Media

    Charles Darwent

    Charles was art critic of the Independent on Sunday from 1999-2013. He was also on the IMB at Pentonville for seven years. His biography of the artist, Josef Albers, was published by Thames & Hudson in October 2018.

    Carol Wates

    Carol studied at Guildford College of Art and Chelsea College of Art and has since had a varied career in the arts. Her family have been long-term active supporters of the Koestler Trust and her husband is a Trustee of the Rehabilitation of Addicted Prisoners Trust.

  • Mural and Wall Hanging

    Jessica Davies Molly

  • Music Composition

    Sam Swallow

    Sam Swallow is the keyboard player for indie pop rock band The Hoosiers. Their first single Worried About Ray reached number 5 on the UK Singles Chart in July 2007. In October 2007, they released their debut album The Trick to Life, which reached number 1 in the album charts. He composes music for film and TV, as well as orchestrating and arranging for The 1975, Cast, Simple Minds and Amy Macdonald.

  • Needlecraft

    Jane Parvin

    Jane is a long-term supporter of the Koestler Trust, with personal connections to the needlework industry. Jane has been a Koestler Awards judge for almost 20 years.

    Harriet Wallace

  • Non-Fiction, Blog, Essay, Article and Review

    Fiona Chesterton

    Fiona Chesterton worked for more than 30 years in Television journalism, production and commissioning at the BBC and Channel 4. She was Controller of Adult Learning at the BBC. She co-edited ‘What Price Channel 4?’ in 2016 and has contributed to books on the BBC and a textbook on Broadcast Journalism. She also sits on the Education panel of the Royal Television Society. She is currently writing a book about a relative who emigrated to Canada in the early twentieth century.

    Nikesh Shukla

  • Painting

    Lee Edwards

    Lee has exhibited internationally since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2005. Working mainly in the mediums of painting and drawing he has shown at PULSE Miami, Gimpel Fils and Domobaal gallery London. He is currently working towards a show at En Arts in Kyoto, Japan. Lee lives and works in London.

    Sarah Pickstone

    Sarah Pickstone was born in Manchester, studied in Newcastle and lives and works in London. She is a full time Artist who also enjoys teaching drawing and painting at the Royal Drawing School. Sarah won the prestigious John Moore’s Painting Prize in 2012. She will exhibit ‘An Allegory of Painting’ at the Royal Academy of Arts which opens in September 2018.

    Alice O’Reilly

  • Pastel

    Nami Ralph

    Nami has worked in the museum and arts sector for over ten years and has been involved in curatorial projects with the Bauhaus Foundation, British Council, Brent Artist Resources and National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi. Nami previously worked for Koestler Arts as Exhibitions & Events Producer where she co-ordinated Koestler exhibitions at the Supreme Court, Tramway, mac Birmingham and Firstsite. She currently works as an Assistant Curator for a national environmental and heritage charity where she co-ordinates exhibitions with museums and galleries. Nami is also the Curator for the London Drawing Club and is a practicing Illustrator in her spare time.

    Molley May

    Molley May is a London based illustrator with a focus on narrative and observation. She works traditionally and is interested in the process of drawing. She has been published by Penguin Random House and recently self published her debut comic.

  • Performance

    Madani Younis

    Madani was appointed as Southbank Centre’s Creative Director in September 2018. Prior to this, he took over as Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre in 2012. In 2013 he won the Groucho Club Maverick Award for the theatre, following the most successful season in the theatre’s history which played to 99% capacity.
    Madani is currently working as a member of the Mayor of London’s Cultural Board.
    He originally trained in film, and his debut short film Ellabellapumpanella, commissioned by the UK Film Council, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007.

    Debo Amon

    Debo Amon is a Literature Programmer at Southbank Centre. He has also previously worked at the British Council on their International Literature programme and other literature organisations and theatres.

    Tamsin Ace

    Tamsin Ace is Head of Public Programming at Southbank Centre with a focus on free and festival programming, participation projects and creating surprising interventions and events in unusual spaces.

  • Photography

    Zelda Cheatle

    Zelda Cheatle is a curator, lecturer and editor specialising in photography.Previously a London gallerist, now curating internationally .
    As the medium of photography becomes more digital, the crossover into moving image , film and digital arts is a natural progression.
    Current projects include the Photographic Dog Show , June 20-23rd, raising funds for Battersea Dog Show, PhotoLondon and Peckham24,.

    Robert Taylor

    Portrait photographer and artist Robert Taylor has published and exhibited widely over the last 30 years, with work in the collections of V&A, the National Portrait Gallery and several other permanent collections.

    Joy Gregory

    Joy Gregory is an artist specialising in photography who is known for her work concerning issues of ‘beauty’ culture and identity politics. She has worked in Art Education for almost three decades and is an Associate Lecturer in Fine Art Photography at Camberwell School of Art. She also continues working alongside students and staff at Slade School of Art as an Honorary Research Associate in Fine Art Media where she developed a new work for the Diaspora Pavillion in the 57th Venice Biennale [2017].
    Her work is featured in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia, Government Art Collection, Yale University, New Haven amongst others. She lives and work in London.

    Kim Coleman

    Kim Coleman is an artist regularly working in light, moving image, and installation. Her solo and collaborative works have been staged at Tate Britain, the ICA, the Showroom, Jerwood Visual Arts, the Athens Biennale, Serpentine Screen, Minneapolis Film Festival, Block Universe Festival, Palais de Tokyo, Edinburgh Art Festival, Glasgow International, and Frieze Projects for Frieze London. In 2014 she created the installation Winter Sun for Kings Cross London, and collaborated with British milliner Noel Stewart on his of the Shadow Collection. She is a visiting lecturer at institutions including Glasgow School of Art, Chelsea College of Art, and Brighton School of Art.

  • Poem

    Joelle Taylor

    Joelle is an award-winning poet, playwright and author who founded the national youth slams for the Poetry Society in 2001. Her books include Ska Tissue (2011), The Woman Who Was Not There (2014) and Songs My Enemy Taught Me (2017).Favourite poetry collection: Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith.

    Rachel Kelly

    Rachel Kelly is a bestselling writer, public speaker and mental health campaigner. She writes regularly for the press and gives TV and radio interviews to help educate and break down the stigma around mental illness in her role as an ambassador for several mental health charities including Sane and Rethink Mental Illness. Her memoir about using poetry to recover from depression Black Rainbow was a Sunday Times bestseller.

    Tobi Kyeremateng

    Tobi Kyeremateng is an award-winning Cultural Producer based in South London. She has worked for organisations such as Apples and Snakes, Bush Theatre, Roundhouse, AFROPUNK London and gal-dem. She’s the founder of Black Ticket Project and won the ‘Inspiration of the Year’ Award at Stylist Magazine’s first Remarkable Women Awards in March 2019.

  • Poetry Collection

    Caroline Hammond

    London-based Caroline Hammond is part of the LetterPress poetry collective and was published in their Anthology in 2015. She has read at the Aldeburgh Festival in 2016 and the South Downs Poetry Festival in 2017, where her poem, The Firetail, came second in the Festival’s competition and reads regularly at the Troubadour.

    Fiona Larkin

    Fiona Larkin’s poems appear in journals and anthologies, such as Magma, The Tangerine, The North, Under the Radar and Best New British and Irish Poets 2018. Work was shortlisted in 2018 for the Bridport Prize and the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award. She organises multi-media events with Corrupted Poetry, and is working on her first collection.

    Rachel Piercey

    Rachel Piercey is a poet, editor and tutor for adults and children. She has two pamphlets with the Emma Press and one forthcoming from HappenStance. Her poems have appeared in The Rialto, The Tangerine, Butcher’s Dog, The Interpreter’s House, Magma and The Poetry Review.

  • Portrait

    Francis Carey

    Frances Carey spent her career at the British Museum; since 2011 she has been a freelance academic and curatorial consultant working with organisations in this country and abroad. She is the Chair of the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust which has supported an artist in residence programme at HMP Grendon for the past eight years. More recently the Trust has also supported the Koestler’s mentoring scheme, and now the Portrait awards for the Koestler Prize.

    John Costi

    John Costi is a 2013 graduate of Central Saint Martin’s where he was awarded a first class honors degree in fine art. After a spiritual awakening during a 6-year prison sentence Costi sought to make sense of the world around him through art. Working mostly in performance, sculpture and installation, Costi’s practice is informed by chance and experience. Always within the social sphere the work is often ephemeral, living on through documentation.

    Edmund Clark

    Edmund Clark is an artist interested in linking history, politics and representation. His research based work combines a range of references and forms including bookmaking, installations, photography, video, documents, text and found images and material. Recurring themes include developing strategies for reconfiguring how subjects are seen and engaging with state censorship to explore unseen experiences, spaces and processes of control and incarceration in the ‘Global War on Terror’ and elsewhere. He was artist-in-residence at HMP Grendon from 2014 to 2019.

  • Printmaking

    Susan Aldworth

    Susan Aldworth is a visual artist who lives and works in London. She has a background in philosophy, and a strong interest in investigating the workings of the human mind. Aldworth has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally and her work is held in many public and private collections. She is an associate lecturer at Central Saint Martin’s, London.

    Gill Saunders

    Gill is a Senior Curator of Prints at the Victoria & Albert Museum. She has written a number of books on 20th Century and Contemporary Art.

  • Radio Play

    Katie Redford

    Katie is an actress/writer from Nottingham. In 2015, she won The BBC Norman Beaton Fellowship which resulted in her becoming part of The BBC Radio Drama Rep. She worked on an extensive amount of radio plays and now plays Lily Pargetter in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers. She also voices characters in BBC Radio 4’s Home Front and BBC Radio Comedy’s All Those Women. Her TV work includes Mount Pleasant (Sky 1), Young Hyacinth (BBC 1) and Still Open All Hours (BBC1) She writes for both stage and screen and has a TV comedy script optioned with Zeppotron, which also won The Comedy Project at Soho Theatre. She’s also just written and produced her first short film, starring Alison Steadman which will be screened in the summer of 2018.

  • Radio Production

    Dorothy Feaver

    Dorothy Feaver is a radio producer and editor. She has produced documentaries for BBC Radio 3, 4 and World Service.

    Chrystal Genesis

    Chrystal is a freelance producer and broadcast journalist. After working at the BBC for almost a decade – creating multi-platform content for Radio 4, 6 Music, BBC 1 and BBC World in London and Washington DC, she runs award-winning podcast, Stance, which explores arts, culture and current affairs from diverse global perspectives. She also works in artistic programming at Southbank Centre for contemporary music, comedy and performance.

    Bethany Clayton

    Beth Clayton is co-director of Boom Shakalaka productions, a multidisciplinary production company founded by award winning broadcaster Gemma Cairney. Boom makes radio, video, theatre and more. She worked in the music industry for ten years before turning to radio production and is also on the management team of music artist Nick Cave.

  • Screenplay

    Lily Loveless

    Lea Sellers

    Lea Sellers is a media trainer and communications consultant. She is co-founder of The Confidence People, helping people communicate with confidence when they speak in public or to the media. She moderates at the Emirates Airline Literary Festival and the British Library. Her background is in television news and current affairs where she was producer on Newsnight and Question Time for the BBC and Deputy Foreign Editor on Channel 4 News. She has a degree in Russian Studies, an MA in International Relations and an MA in Screenwriting. She also writes feature film scripts and plays.

  • Sculpture

    Caroline Worthington

    Caroline has worked with artists throughout her career as a curator. As Chief Executive of Bexley Heritage Trust for six years, she ran two historic houses and introduced a contemporary art programme, featuring the work of artists including Gavin Turk, Laura Ford, and Joana Vasconcelos among others. Prior to that she was the Director of the Florence Nightingale Museum on London’s South Bank, where she raised funds and oversaw a complete redesign and re-launch in 2010.

    Caroline Woodley

    Rose Verney

    Rose Verney is an artist and also an art therapist. She makes stitched textiles, and sculptural assemblages using a variety of materials. She has recently begun using clay, and is making sculptures and tiles.

    Lisa Selby

    Tom Woolner

    Tom is a London-based artist, working predominately in sculpture and performance. His work has been featured in Frieze, Art Monthly, Modern Painters and The Guardian and he is the recipient of awards from Site Gallery, The Elephant Trust, The Danish Arts Council and Beck’s Futures.

  • Singer-songwriter – Original

    Gabriella Rhodes

    Working as the Development Assistant, Gabriella has worked on a variety of projects within Serious whilst supporting the development team over the last year. This includes working on hospitality events during the EFG London Jazz Festival, helping to establish partnerships across all sectors, assisting with the administration of Serious Trust and supporting in implementing a broad programme of activity including Learning work. Before working at Serious, Gabriella worked at Sisters Grimm, an international ballet production company. In this role, Gabriella worked with the musicians and cast members as company manager & PA, assisting with all areas of creating live productions and touring aspects. A proficient musician with a high standard in both violin and piano, Gabriella has a keen passion of all genres of music.

    Helen Gibbs

    Helen is PA to Claire Whitaker OBE who is one of two directors at Serious. Helen’s role involves supporting Claire in all aspects of her work which include new business development, supporting the Serious Trust (a registered charity) and working closely with the Learning & Development teams to devise and deliver the organisation’s Learning & Participation programmes. Prior to Serious, Helen worked at World Circuit Records. Over the years she worked as, Marketing and PR Officer, Production Coordinator and PA to the label owner. Helen has also worked for other music based organisations such as Movimientos and Africa Oyé.

    Grace Lindley

    Grace is the Learning & Participation Coordinator at Serious, and has worked on a number of Serious’ outreach projects since beginning in the role in 2016. These include Saxophone Massive – a mass participation project for up to 200 saxophonists performing to audiences of local people and Pass it On, a scheme which brings outstanding artists into Pupil Referral Units in Leeds to lead workshops and inspire the next generation of artists. Prior to working at Serious, Grace worked at Paintings in Hospitals, assisting with all areas of a national visual arts charity, including fundraising and arts collection management.

  • Songwriting

    Angelina Grimshaw

    Angelina Grimshaw is a published songwriter, music lecturer, performer and recording artist.
    Her work has taken her to the National Theatre, Edinburgh Festival, international Blues and Jazz festivals.
    Her music has received outstanding reviews in the music press and prolific attention from BBC radio.
    She is currently writing and recording with Dr. Robert of The Blow Monkeys, and touring with the Iconic 60’s rock band The Pretty Things.

  • Spoken Word

    Wanda Canton

    Wanda Canton designs and delivers structured group courses and workshops exploring spoken word, performance and creative writing as tools to express or understand emotions and experiences, using language to create movement or space. She has worked with community projects including TedX, mental health services and secure forensic hospitals. As an artist she is inspired by jazz and rap and has been performing since 2011, including VFringe Festival and publication in the ICA.

    Lady Unchained

    Lady Unchained is a poet, promoter, workshop facilitator, Founder and CEO of Unchained Poetry (an artistic platform for artist with experience of the criminal justice system).

    Jason N Smith

    Jason N Smith is an award winning writer and spoken word artist who has performed at Roundhouse, Royal Festival Hall, National Theatre and various festivals and events nationally. He has also been involved in BBC Listener Project and facilitates workshops.

  • Stage Play

    Synergy Theatre Project

    Koestler Arts has partnered with Synergy Theatre Project to develop the Stage Play category. All Stage Play entries will be read and judged by a team of theatre professionals and ex-prisoners. Every entry will receive written feedback. After award-winners are announced online, there will be a prize-giving ceremony and a reading at the Royal Court Theatre.

    Readers provided by Synergy: Hassan Abdullrazzak, Juliet Gilkes Romero, Kirsten Foster, Mark Williams, Penny Gold, Sonya Hale, Uju Enendu

  • Textile Art

    Enam Gbewonyo

    Enam Gbewonyo’s practice investigates identity, womanhood, and humanity through the mediums of textiles and performance. Through her work, she is also an advocate for handcraft using processes like embroidery, knit, weave, print and wirework. Her work has been exhibited in several national and international group shows with leading art spaces such as TAFETA Gallery (2018), Bonhams (2018), Bisi Silva’s Gallery of Small Things at Centre Culturel Douta Seck, Dakar (2018) and ACDF Lagos (2017), Toronto’s, The Artist Project Fair (2016) and TEDxEuston in London (2015). She was also a 2017/18 International Curator’s Forum ‘Beyond the Frame’ participant – a 22 month programme developed to support BAME art professionals.Passionate about elevating black women artists, Enam is also the founder of the Black British Female Artist Collective. Founded in 2015, the Collective serves as a platform to support emerging African/Caribbean diaspora women artists build sustainable careers.

    Jessica Light

    Jessica is one of the last working trimming weavers in the UK. Jessica designs, weaves and makes contemporary and innovative passementerie (trims and tassels) for interiors and fashion. She also works as a trend forecaster and colour consultant for the creative industries.

  • Themed Category: Interlude

    Raphael Rowe

    Raphael Rowe was a BBC Investigative Journalist and Correspondent for the BBC, R4 Today Programme, Six O’Clock News and Panorama. He is the presenter of Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons streaming now on Netflix. Before becoming a journalist Raphael spent 12 years in prison convicted of crimes he did not commit before his convictions were overturned at the appeal court. As a prisoner Raphael won a Koestler award for his art.

  • Watercolour

    Cullinan Richards

    Jeanine Richards and Charlotte Cullinan AKA Cullinan Richards are an art duo, engaged in an expanded painting practice that manifests itself in the creation of artworks both on and off the canvas. Painting expanded to lighting systems, furniture, live events, shops and social sculpture have been explored often using the construct of mise-en-scene. Cullinan Richards touch on subjects that include reclaiming ‘the feminine’ as a counter stance to the making and positioning of paintings.
    Cullinan Richards live and work in London.

  • Woodcraft

    Geoff Nunn

    Geoff left school at the age of 15 and trained in joinery and carpentry which led to a varied career including manufacturing, managament and teaching. He also taught at Highdown Prison.

    John Owen

    Left school at 15, and has had a wide-ranging carpentry and furniture making career, that has included shop fitting, building sites and panel work. He currently runs a company creating plywood chairs.


Looking round the entries to the Koestler Awards is like taking a tour through the collective subconscious. Here are the concerns, hopes and obsessions of thousands of people.

Grayson Perry, artist