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 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

Oneday Door, HM Prison Stafford, Commended Award for Painting, 2016

Beyond the Door

The Koestler Exhibition for the West Midlands
Curated by young people from Walsall Youth Justice Service
13 Jan – 26 Mar 2017
mac birmingham

Beyond the Door is an exhibition of artwork, writing and music from prisons, secure hospitals, and by people on community sentences in the West Midlands.

Hero, Dudley and Sandwell Probation, MHDFAS Gold Award for Portrait, 2016

Hero, Dudley and Sandwell Probation, MHDFAS Gold Award for Portrait, 2016

A different group or individual is invited to curate each Koestler Trust exhibition, selecting the exhibits from submissions to the annual Koestler Awards and giving every show a unique look and voice. For Beyond the Door, a group of young people under the supervision of Walsall Youth Justice Service volunteered to take on the challenge of curating the exhibition, with support and guidance from the Koestler Trust and mac birmingham.

The curating project involved a number of workshop sessions that included art and music activities. The young people learned about curating, engaged with a range of artwork and met arts professionals, before carefully considering over 500 entries from the West Midlands to the 2016 Koestler Awards.  They worked together to select the final pieces for the exhibition and decided on themes and layout.


Curating the Koestler West Midlands exhibition gave our young people the chance to engage in the arts and contribute to their rehabilitation. Using the arts as a channel helps bring young people back into education, training or employment.

Emma Donnelly, Senior Practitioner, Walsall Youth Justice Service

Being involved in this activity has actually inspired me to do art, it was a good opportunity to work with others and appreciate different forms of art.

Beyond the Door Curator

Spaceman, HM Prison Stafford, Bronze Award for Needlecraft, 2016

Spaceman, HM Prison Stafford, Bronze Award for Needlecraft, 2016

Arena Gallery
mac birmingham
Cannon Hill Park
B12 9QH

13 January – 26 March 2017

Daily 9am – 9.45pm
Free entry


Project partners
Koestler Logo   mac-birm-black   birmingham-city-council-logo   walsall-council-logo

Walsall Youth Justice Service

Supported by

arts-council-england logo  NOMS-Logo-300 2015 

Corporate Sponsor

With additional support from
Grantham Yorke Trust, Jonnie Turpie High Sheriff of the West Midlands 2015–16, Malvern Hills Decorative and Fine Arts Society