Katharine Grainger


Have a go at producing a poem, drawing, painting, song or any other Koestler artform using the word ‘journey’ as a theme. This year’s theme was chosen by Koestler Facebook and Twitter followers.


From as little as £5 a month for a Commended Award, to our top Scholarship Award which offers talented offender artists 10 mentoring sessions with a professional artist, naming an Award can be one of the most direct and satisfying ways to get involved with the Koestler Trust.
More about naming an award

Name an Award

Koestler Awards 2014

Koester Awards 2015 Deadline

The deadline for the 2015 Koestler Awards is 14 April 2015. Click here for poster, guidance and entry form. Large text versions also available.

Last year we received a record-breaking number of entries to the Koestler Awards – 8,789 pieces of writing, music, film, fine art and design. Award-winners are listed here, anonymously, by establishment (pdf).


  • January
  • April
  • June & July
  • August
  • Sept
  • October
  • November
  • December
Accepting Entries for 2015 Awards
All 2014 entries being returned, except a selection kept for further exhibition or sale until Sept 2015
14 April 2015 award entry deadline
June & July:
Awards judging takes place
UK Awards published on our website at end of August
UK exhibition at Southbank Centre opens
UK exhibition at Southbank Centre continues
Awards cheques and certificates sent out at end of October
End of December
UK exhibition at Southbank Centre ends at end of November
Sales money sent out
Start returning artwork - starting with collections at Koestler Arts Centre


The Koestler Trust has been running the awards programme for offenders, secure patients and detainees for over 50 years.

The aims of the awards include:

  • A positive goal towards which inmates can strive.
  • A means of acquiring and practising new skills, and often discovering unrecognised talent.
  • An outlet for creative energies and emotions.
  • Recognition of achievements.
  • Encouragement to continue in the arts and education.
Coming Up For Air

Coming Up For Air
HMP Whitemoor, Commended Award, Oil or Acrylic

Displays Of Work Throughout The Year

Some work is selected to be shown in displays in a wide range of public spaces including offices, restaurants and prison visit halls.

Britannia Riots
Britannia Riots
HM Prison Frankland


The Awards offer a great chance for entrants to get their creative work seen or heard, get feedback, sell work, and to share in over £30,000 of prizes.

Find out how to enter


For more information please view the awards guidance


Every entrant receives a participation certificate and recognition for their work. We give over 1,500 awards a year, total prize money worth over £30,000, with most winners receiving a cash prize.
Find out more about the prizes

Prestigious JUDGES

Entries are judged by over 150 experts from different fields. 2014 judges included Turner Prize-winning artists Grayson Perry and Jeremy Deller; the National Theatre; the Victoria & Albert Museum; artist Sarah Lucas; celebrity hair stylist Louise Galvin; rapper Speech Debelle; artist and activist Htein Lin; and the band Hot Chip.


We have selected some images that we hope will be an inspiration and a celebration of some of the talented artists who have have submitted their work for a Koestler Award in the past.
View the selection

Window Seat
Window Seat
Ashworth Hospital, Gold Award, Furniture

Get your artwork out there!

Major exhibition at the Southbank Centre in London
We show a selection of the entries to the public at our annual UK exhibition, which attracts around 20,000 visitors. This takes place in autumn 2014 at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre - one of the most famous arts venues in the world. As well as work exhibited on the gallery walls, the UK exhibition will include readings, performances, film screenings and a special event for entrants' families.
More on the Exhibitions

The Strength and Vulnerability Bunker 2013

Regional and National Exhibitions

As well as the UK exhibition at Southbank Centre the Trust holds shows of local artwork in different areas each year. This gives work in those areas an extra chance to be seen, win awards and sell. In the 2015 Awards year we plan to hold exhibitions in Scotland (with Tramway in Glasgow) and the North East (with BALTIC and Gateshead Library).

Wales Millennium Centre
Wales Millennium Centre