The art awards scheme for offenders, secure patients and detainees

We’re the UK’s best-known prison arts charity. We’ve been awarding, exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients for over 55 years.

Our awards receive over 7,000 entries a year – inspiring offenders to take part in the arts, work towards positive achievements and transform their lives. Our national exhibition attracts 20,000 visitors – showing the public the talent and potential of offenders and people in secure settings.

We have no endowment or capital – our work depends entirely on donations.

Read more about us

Connecting Brains, Heatherwood Court Hospital, Bronze Award for Themed Category: Connections, 2018


Themed Category

Jeremy Paxman judging the Themed Category

Participants in the Koestler Awards, and the staff who support them, told us several years ago that we could help by providing a themed category for entrants to use as a starting point when preparing their submissions.  In response we started the annual Themed Category. Each year a theme is chosen to which entrants can respond in any of the other Koestler Awards artforms.

The Themed Category gives many entrants the inspiration to take part in the Awards, often for the first time, and to experiment with new artforms. It doesn’t affect the other categories of Koestler Awards, although when a category has been especially popular, its impact can sometimes be felt across our exhibitions.

Scroll down to see artworks from previous years of the Koestler Awards.

Previous themes:

2018  Connections judged by Reggie Yates
2017  Inside chosen by Antony Gormley
2016  Comfort chosen by the Koestler Trust’s social media followers
2015  Journey chosen by the Koestler Trust’s social media followers
2014  Dreams judged by Olympic champion, Katherine Grainger CBE
2013  Forgiveness judged by Dame Jude Kelly OBE
2012  50 in celebration of 50 years of the Koestler Trust
2011  Help! chosen by Jeremy Paxman

Arts Project

The Arts Project category is open to entries which feature components that cover several Koestler Awards artforms, and that are created to engage people as artists, participants and audiences. Entries must include description of the aims of the project, documentation of the artistic outcome and the people involved.