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 50 years.

Our awards receive over 8,000 entries a year – inspiring offenders to take part in the arts, work for achievement 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

Bob & Roberta Smith in conversation with Prof. David Wilson at Snail Porridge: The Koestler Exhibition for the North West, 2014

Recent exhibitions

Over the past two years the Koestler Trust has travelled the country to share artwork generated by the Awards with audiences across the UK. We have held exhibitions in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester and Gateshead.

Our UK Exhibitions take place annually at the Southbank Centre in London and have included RE:FORM Art By Offenders, Secure Patients and Detainees (2015) and Catching Dreams: Art By Offenders, Secure Patients and Detainees (2014). In Scotland we worked with Summer Hall, Edinburgh, to show 183 More Sleeps The Koestler Scotland Exhibition (2015). Meanwhile we collaborated with the BALTIC Centre and Gateshead Central Library to show LOUD! The Koestler Exhibition for the North East (2016).

We worked with mac Birmingham to show Double Take: The Koestler Exhibitions for the West Midlands (2015), joined forced with the Castlefield Gallery in Manchester to show Snail Porridge: The Koestler Exhibition for the North West (2014) and visited the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff to show Illumination: The Koestler Exhibition for Wales (2014).

Our exhibition programme is ongoing with plans to take our exhibitions to new cities throughout the UK, while building on the success of our annual UK exhibition at the Southbank Centre in London.