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Serco prisons celebrate latest Koestler Arts Awards result

On October 25, 2021, the Koestler Trust charity announced this year’s results for their annual art awards and Serco managed prisons across the UK were proud to see that many of their creative residents winning a total of 126 awards!

HMP Dovegate, where there is a rich history of winning over one-hundred Koestler Awards, took home 64 awards along with HMP Ashfield with 26, HMP Thameside with 10 awards, HMP Lowdham Grange with 8, HMP Kilmarnock with 14 and HMP Doncaster with 4.

The Koestler Awards are an annual award for prison arts in the UK and have been running since 1962. Each year, prisoners from around the UK submit works of art from a variety of artforms such as visual art, craft and design, writing, performance and audio and even film and animation into 52 different award categories.

As well as running the annual art awards, the Koestler Trust also hosts exhibitions and events showcasing the artwork made by prisoners in order to help challenge negative stereotypes of people in custody. The trust also provides mentor programmes to ex-offenders in order help keep them artistically engaged after serving their sentence.

The Koestler Trust are holding their regular arts exhibition at London’s Southbank Theatre. Titled “The I and the We”, the exhibition is be curated by French-born, London-based artist Camille Walala and her sister, curator Sarah Ihler-Meyer.  Over the last decade, Walala’s large-scale murals and installations have transformed public spaces globally. Koestler Arts invited the curators to utilise their unique perspective and creative eye in the curation of artwork made in the UK’s criminal justice system. Together they selected over 200 pieces to display from more than 6,400 entries. Past curators have included Antony GormleyBenjamin Zephaniah, Speech Debelle, Sarah Lucas, Grayson Perry, the families of prisoners, victims of crime, serving female prisoners and graduates of the Koestler Arts mentoring programme.

Walala and Ihler-Meyer’s bright and bold exhibition design lights up the Royal Festival Hall’s Spirit Level exhibition space with over 200 selected pieces in a variety of mediums across craft, fine art, music, animation and writing. The exhibition will be presented to the public by ex-prisoner exhibition hosts who have received specialist training to lead tours, answer questions and share their first-hand experience of the importance of art and creativity for those within the criminal justice system.