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

  • 100 Years On

    An Art Trail by Women in Prison

Different But The Same, Atkinson Secure Unit, Mixed Media, 2017

100 Years On: An Art Trail by Women in Prison

Throughout 2018 the Koestler Trust displayed artwork by women in prison in key sites across the UK.

Keeping Fagan Busy , HM Prison & YOI Low Newton, Mixed media, 2017

These ‘corridors of power’ displayed 88 artworks by 54 women who have entered artwork and poetry into the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Koestler Awards.

> Click here to see a selection of the artworks in the art trail.

> Click here to see work from the art trail for sale

The project played a part in the Vote 100 celebrations which took place throughout 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which granted women the right to vote.

Many suffragettes were famously imprisoned 100 years ago and this trail looked to shine a light on the challenges faced by women in prison in 2018, put their challenges on the agenda of policy makers and catalyse improvement in the treatment and rehabilitation of women prisoners.

We are delighted with the legacy of the project, with all sales proceeds going towards helping us to recognise, award and celebrate the artistic achievement, excellence and commitment of a woman leaving prison next year through the Helen Cadbury Scholarship Award. This Award will provide the scholar with bespoke, one-to-one support of a trained arts professional for a year, as well as a monetary prize and an arts bursary.

Many establishments have bought their art trail artworks, and we are thrilled that artwork made by women in prison will be permanently displayed in venues including the Old Bailey, Durham Constabulary Headquarters, the North Wales Women’s Centre, Telegraph Media Head Office, Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology and the Pankhurst Centre.


100 Years On at the Supreme Court

5 June – 14 December

32 paintings, drawings, sculptures and poems were specifically chosen to be displayed in the Supreme Court on both the lower ground floor and in the Lobby situated outside Courtroom One on the second floor. All artwork displayed was entered into the Koestler Awards by female prisoners, and the display was the first chance to see artwork from the 2018 Awards, as well as work from the past two years.

We were very excited to have the Supreme Court joining 83 other venues participating in the art trail, including institutions, policy-makers, educators, police stations, courts and prisons.

To learn more about the art trail:

>click here to download the 100 Years On leaflet

>click here to download the 100 Years On press release

Some of the exhibited pieces are for sale on our online shop.


Venues and Artworks