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

Haroon Mirza and Gaia Fugazza judging Digital image

Judging the Koestler Awards

Our judges play a vital part in maintaining the impact and prestige of the Koestler Awards. By using their expertise to select award-winning artworks from over 8,500 entries, the judges help recognise and reward the skill, effort and ambition of people in the UK’s criminal justice system.

Entries are judged by over 100 experts from different fields. Judges have included Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, representatives from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Council, the National Theatre, the British Film Institute, Louise Galvin, Speech Debelle and Hot Chip.

We are grateful to the following judges who will be giving awards and feedback to 2017 Koestler Awards entrants, and the many more people who helped compile shortlists and volunteered to give written feedback.

  • Animation

    Roger Graef

    Roger is one of Britain’s leading television documentary-makers, often using ‘fly-on-the-wall’ techniques. He was also a founding board member of Channel Four and a governor of the British Film Institute.  He was a Trustee for the Koestler Trust for 10 years and is now a patron of the charity. Roger is particularly renowned for his influential documentaries involving police forces and issues of criminality, as well as a focus on youth and children’s issues. He is also known for his pioneering work in gaining access to previously closed institutions, ranging from ministries and boardrooms to police, courts, prisons, probation and social work.

  • Anthology

    Rishi Dastidar

    Rishi has worked as a journalist, copywriter and poet. He has written for a wide variety of brands in different sectors during his career, while his poetry has been published by the Financial Times, Tate Modern and the Southbank Centre amongst many others. His work was most recently in Ten: The New Wave (Bloodaxe, 2014). A winner of And Other Stories short story prize in 2012, he has also had reviews published in the Times Literary Supplement. He also serves as a trustee of Spread The Word.

    Claire Dyer

    Claire is a novelist and poet. Her poetry collections, Eleven Rooms and Interference Effects are published by Two Rivers Press. Her novels, The Moment and The Perfect Affair and her short story Falling for Gatsby are published by Quercus. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and is a regular guest on BBC Radio Berkshire’s Radio Reads with Bill Buckley. Claire also teaches creative writing at literary and writers’ festivals and for Bracknell & Wokingham College and runs Fresh Eyes, an editorial and critiquing service.

  • Arts Project

    Gemma Latty

    Gemma is Exhibitions Coordinator in the British Council’s Visual Arts Department and works primarily on international exhibitions of British art. Previous projects include Anish Kapoor’s first solo exhibition in India; British Pavilion exhibitions at the Venice Biennale in 2009, 2011; and most recently Sarah Lucas in 2015.

    Louise Shelly

    Louise is the Collaborative Projects Curator at The Showroom Gallery, London, where she runs a programme called Communal Knowledge developing collective arts projects around questions of social injustice and political arts practices.

    Raheel Mohammed

    Raheel Mohammed is the founder and director of Maslaha, an organisation that aims to change and challenge the conditions that create inequalities for Muslim communities. Raheel has recently been profiled as one of Britain’s 50 New Radicals in The Observer newspaper for pioneering creative change to some of society’s most difficult issues.

  • Beauty

    Carole Warburton

    Carole has been a nail technician for the last 25 years and a Koestler Awards judge for 14 years. This year Carole will be travelling to Jamaica to do the nails for Caribbean Fashion week.

  • Braille

    Kevin Carey

    Kevin is chair of the RNIB Group. Founder and CEO of humanITy, an eInclusion charity, and a Board Member and Investee Champion of Social Investment Business. Kevin is also chair of the WBU (World Blind Union) Technology Committee and President of Transforming Braille Group LLC, a global project to produce a refreshable braille display at 10% of the current market price.

  • Calligraphy

    Ewan Clayton

    Ewan has practising calligraphy for over 30 years and is Professor of Design at the University of Sunderland.

    Edward Wates

    Edward is an internationally exhibited calligrapher trained in the Society of Scribes and Illuminators’ Advanced Training Scheme. He is also a full member of the Letter Exchange.

  • Ceramics

    Emma Bridgewater

    Emma is a ceramic designer and founded her ceramics manufacturing company Emma Bridgewater in 1985. The company is one of the largest pottery manufacturers based entirely in the UK, with all of its products made and individually hand-decorated in its factory in Stoke-on-Trent.

    Abigail Cohen

    Abigail is a ceramicist and painter. She makes hand thrown ceramic vessels such as cups and bowls – as with a painting, she aims for her pots to tell stories through their surface.

    Chris Bramble

    Chris is an artist who produces hand-crafted pots and sculptures influenced by European sculptural tradition, and African craftsmanship, shape and form.

    Fiamma Montagu

    Fiamma is a documentary maker and artist, specialising in making large scale ceramic forms and installations. She was the producer for Paul Cummins’ and Tom Piper’s ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ – an installation of 888,246 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London in commemoration of the centenary of WW1.

  • Choral Music

    Philharmonia Chorus

    The Philharmonia Chorus is an independent symphony chorus based in London which was founded in 1957 and quickly established itself as one of Europe’s leading symphony choruses. In a highly distinguished career, the Chorus has performed with nearly all the leading conductors of the age.  The Chorus performs regularly in London, and over the next year will undertake tours to Spain and Germany.

  • Computer Generated Music

    Hot Chip

    Hot Chip was formed in 2000 by old school friends Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard, later joined by Felix Martin, Al Doyle and Owen Clarke. Their second album ‘The Warning’ was nominated for both a Grammy and the Mercury Prize in 2006. The follow-up, 2008’s ‘Made in the Dark’ made the UK Top 5 and produced a Top 10 single in ‘Ready for the Floor’. The band is also known for its DJ talent, and has remixed the likes of Gorillaz and Amy Winehouse.

  • Cover Version

    Jane Beese & Marcus Davey

    Marcus is Chief Executive & Artistic Director and Jane is Head of Music at The Roundhouse, a performing arts venue where artists and emerging talent create extraordinary work and where young people can grow creatively as individuals. Each year The Roundhouse gives thousands of 11–25 year-olds the chance to engage with the arts through their music, media and performance projects. They believe creativity gives us freedom, hope and has the power to transform.

     

  • Craft

    Nicky Hessenberg

    Nicky is a craft artist whose work includes rugs and wallhangings made from a variety of recycled textiles, with graphic and abstract design work.

    Carola Zogolovitch

    Carola is a trained typographer and book designer and Koestler Awards judge for over 15 years.

  • Digital Art

    Zelda Cheatle

    Zelda is a curator and a visiting lecturer at several universities, including the Central St Martins, Kingston, Belfast, Westminster, and Sir John Cass. She recently curated the Sony World Photography Awards for Somerset House, Mother River in China and a global exhibition of 868 prints from 23 countries and 129 artists for Dubai 2016.  She is currently working with Autograph, the association of Black photographers.

    Jason Shenai

    Jason is a freelance photographer who also runs Millennium Images, a picture library representing the best of 500 contemporary photographers. Jason also lectures in various university photographic centres and for several years was module leader on the Documentary Photography course at the University of Westminster.

    Gavin Graham 

    Gavin is an art consultant and advisor who studied History of Art and ran a gallery for many years. He is also a patron of the National Portrait Gallery.

     

  • Drawing

    Terence Lambert

    Terence J Lambert graduated in Fine Art from Batley School of Art. He is a fine artist/illustrator that works mainly in a digital format. Main themes of beauty, melancholy, isolation and anxiety run throughout his work. He is interested in and inspired by the human condition and social dynamics. Terence has himself received multiple Koestler awards and exhibited at the Southbank Centre on numerous occasions.

    Jacqui McIntosh

    Jacqui is Exhibitions Manager at the Drawing Room, Bermondsey.

    Kim Coleman

     

     

     

  • Fashion

    Juliet Ash

    Known internationally as a leading figure in the field of Fashion and Dress History and Theory. Juliet is currently a visiting tutor in the History and Theory of Dress and Textiles at the Royal College of Art.

  • Film

    Grace Bridger

    Grace is the Film Academy Coordinator at the British Film Institute, London.

    Rachael Horsley

    Rachael is the Assistant to the CEO at the British Film Institute, London.

  • Flash Fiction and Short Story

    Kit de Waal

    Kit de Waal worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law, and her writing has received numerous awards including the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize 2014 and 2015 and the SI Leeds Literary Reader’s Choice Prize 2014. De Waal’s debut novel, My Name Is Leon, was published by Penguin Books in June 2016. After securing the publishing deal with Penguin, she used some of her advance to set up the Kit de Waal Creative Writing Fellowship to help improve working-class representation in the arts.

    Bidisha

    Bidisha is a writer and broadcaster for the BBC and Sky, specialising in human rights, global affairs, the arts and culture. She is a Trustee of the Booker Prize Foundation. Her fifth book, ‘Asylum and Exile,’ is based on her outreach work with asylum seekers and refugees. She also does outreach work in UK prisons and detention centres. She is currently finishing her 6th book, a collection of travel writing from Italy, India, and China; she is also completing her first poetry collection.

    Imogen Robertson

    Imogen is a novelist and chair of the Historical Writers Association. Three of her novels have been shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger. She is published by Headline in the UK and by Penguin and St. Martin’s Press in the USA, and has taught creative writing in Plymouth and London.

  • Furniture

    Julian Chichester

    Julian’s company ‘Julian Chichester’ creates classically inspired, quality English furniture. The company design and manufacture remarkable furniture, which combines classic styles with contemporary accents.

  • Graphic Design

    Emily Wood & Ruth Sykes

    Co-founders of REG graphic design studio. They are also both Associate Lecturers in Graphic Design at Central St Martins College of Art & Design.

  • Graphic Novel

    David Baillie

    David is a London-based comics writer currently working for DC Comics.

  • Hairstyling

    Louise Galvin

    Top celebrity colourist Louise Galvin, based in her father’s famous Daniel Galvin Salon in London, with over 20 year’s experience in the hair care industry.  Has coloured the hair of several fashion and beauty icons including, Sophie Dahl, Samantha Cameron and Patsy Kensit.

  • Handmade Book

    Mike Abrahams

    Mike is a designer, artist book maker, curator and athlete. He calls all these activities ‘work’ as they are all as important as each other in his life. His work has taken him from Nepal to Greece, Singapore to Italy and from Jordan to Senegal – making logos and brands, books, events or just running. All aspects of his work influence his artist books which can be found in the collections of Tate and the V&A as well as around the world.

    Deb Rindl

    After years of office work, Deb Rindl escaped and ran off to Camberwell College of Arts to join the Graphics & Illustration BA course as a mature student.  She creates artist’s books in small editions, mostly printed and made by hand, and notable for their ‘sculptural’ quality.

  • Handmade Greetings Card

    Ellen Kirkhope

    Ellen has worked as a greeting card designer, as a designer for Disney, and is currently a trend spotter.

    Melissa Hoffman

    Melissa is a textile designer and trends consultant who has worked for a variety of fashion and homewares companies, including illustrating cards for Tigerprint and Marks & Spencer.

  • Instrumental Music

    Richard Ireland

    Richard is one of the UK’s leading chamber musicians and has been a regular performer at major chamber music venues across Europe. He has performed alongside many great international artists and was a member of the Chilingirian Quartet until 2010. He is currently a professor of violin and chamber music at the Royal Academy of Music.

  • Life Story

    Louis Theroux

    Louis Theroux is an English documentary filmmaker and broadcaster best known for his documentary series, including Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends and When Louis Met…. He works with the BBC producing his documentaries and television series, and has received two British Academy Television Awards and a Royal Television Society Television Award for his work.

    Anthony Whittome

    As editorial director of Hutchinson and Random House UK for many years, Anthony published work by a range of well-known authors of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

    Jane Corry

    Jane is a journalist and author of thrillers. She is published by Penguin Books and her last novel ‘My Husband’s Wife’ was a Sunday Times best-seller. She was also writer in residence at HM Prison Grendon and HM Prison Spring Hill for three years.

  • Longer Fiction and Novel

    Anthony Whittome

    As editorial director of Hutchinson and Random House UK for many years, Anthony published work by a range of well-known authors of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

    Martha Whittome

    Martha is a qualified teacher with over ten years’ experience in literary arts administration, running the Poetry Book Society.

     

  • Matchsticks/Matchsticks & Mixed Media

    Andrew Wright

    Until recently, Andrew was Quality Assurance Manager at Republic Technologies (UK) Ltd. Having worked with a company that manufactured, and now sells, matches for over 30 years Andrew is very well qualified to judge the matchstick modelling categories. Andrew has judged the awards for a number of years and never ceases to be amazed at the time, effort and enthusiasm that is put into the entries.

  • Mixed Media
  • Mural and Wall Hanging

    Sarah Pickstone

  • Music Composition

    Sam Swallow

    Sam Swallow is the keyboard player for indie pop rock band The Hoosiers. Their first single ‘Worried About Ray’ reached number 5 on the UK Singles Chart in July 2007. In October 2007, they released their debut album The Trick to Life, which reached number 1 in the album charts.

  • Needlecraft

    Jane Parvin

    Jane is a long-term supporter of the Koestler Trust, with personal connections to the needlework industry. Jane has been a Koestler Awards judge for almost 20 years.

    Fine Cell Work

    Sophie Rutherford, Production Coordinator, and Jennie Ingham, Production Manager, work for Fine Cell Work, a social enterprise that teaches needlework to prison inmates and sells their products.

  • Non-Fiction, Blog, Essay, Article and Review

    Fiona Chesterton

    Fiona Chesterton worked for more than 30 years in Television journalism, production and commissioning at the BBC and Channel 4. She was Controller of Adult Learning at the BBC. She now writes on media affairs – contributing to a forthcoming book on the BBC and writing book reviews for the London School of Economics online blog. She also sits on the Education panel of the Royal Television Society.

    Lea Sellers

    Lea Sellers is a media trainer and communications consultant. She is co-founder of Media Skills for Women helping people communicate with confidence when they speak in public or to the media. She runs workshops at the Dubai International Writers’ Centre and moderates at the Emirates Airline Literary Festival. Her background is in television news and current affairs where she was producer on Newsnight and Question Time for the BBC and Deputy Foreign Editor on Channel 4 News. She also writes feature film scripts and plays.

    Yvonne Roberts

    Yvonne Roberts has been an award-winning journalist, writer and broadcaster for more than 40 years. She has written for every broadsheet including The Guardian, The Observer and The Sunday Times, covering social policy, politics, investigations, interviews, features and comment. She has written four novels and four  non-fiction books. She is chair of  trustees of Women in Prison, political writer in residence at the University of Sussex, a Fellow at The Young Foundation and an adviser to All About Trans, working to improve the media’s understanding of young trans people.

    Adam Holmes

    Adam Holmes is Project Manager at Books Unlocked, and works with prisons, young offender institutions, libraries and schools. Adam looks after the programme’s relationship with Man Booker Prize-shortlisted authors and key partners such as National Prison Radio. He also supports the development of new programmes and projects as part of wider community work.

  • Painting

    Bob and Roberta Smith

    Bob and Roberta Smith is a British contemporary artist, writer, author and musician. He is known for his ‘slogan’ art; he trained as a sign painter in New York and uses text as an art form, creating colourful slogans on banners and placards that challenge elitism and promote the importance of creativity in politics and education. His works are exhibited in collections in Europe and the United States.

    John Costi

    John studied at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and works mostly in film, spoken word and performance installation. He currently works with ‘at risk’ young people and exhibits artwork internationally. John is a previous Koestler Awards winner and former Koestler mentee.

    Jude Cowan Montague

    Jude is a British artist, writer, composer, film historian, poet and broadcaster. She exhibits internationally and in London’s underground art community.

    Lee Edwards

    Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2005, Lee has exhibited internationally, including PULSE Miami, Galerie EGP Paris and Art Brussels. He has had solo exhibitions at Gimpel Fils and Domobaal Gallery and has been featured in several publications including TimeOut, Elle and Saatchi’s Art and Music Magazine. Lee is based in London and is represented by Domobaal Gallery.

     

  • Pastel

    Angela Findlay

    Angela creates mixed media paintings that have been widely exhibited in galleries across the UK, and who has many years of experience teaching art to prisoners and young offenders.

    Jane Joseph

    Jane is an artist based in London who studied painting at Camberwell School of Art. Jane’s work consists predominately of large charcoal drawings and small black and white etchings concerned with the urban landscape.

    Ruth Taylor

    Ruth is a translator, art historian and printmaker, Trustee of the Irene Taylor Trust Music in Prisons.

  • Performance

    Rikki Beadle-Blair

    Rikki is a British actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, singer, designer, choreographer, dancer and songwriter. He is the creative director of multi-media production company Team Angelica – an entertainment company committed to creating challenging, transformative entertainment in the mediums of film, theatre, music, television, radio, dance and design; collaborating with performers, artists and practitioners from the widest possible range of backgrounds.

  • Photography

    Robert Taylor

    Freelance photographer with 25 years experience.  Specialising in portrait photography, Robert has work in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal Society, and several private collections.

    Teresa Elwes

    Teresa is a letter designer and carver, forensic psychologist and director of a grant making foundation that supports work in human rights, justice and the environment.

  • Poem

    Mark Waldron

    Mark Waldron has published three collections of poetry, ‘The Brand New Dark’, ‘The Itchy Sea’, and ‘Meanwhile, Trees’, which was published in 2016 by Bloodaxe. His work appears in Identity Parade: New British and Irish Poets (Bloodaxe 2010) and Best British Poetry 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 (Salt). He’s was named one of the 2014 Next Generation Poets by the Poetry Book Society.

  • Poetry Collection

    Bidisha

    Bidisha is a writer and broadcaster for the BBC and Sky, specialising in human rights, global affairs, the arts and culture. She is a Trustee of the Booker Prize Foundation. Her fifth book, ‘Asylum and Exile,’ is based on her outreach work with asylum seekers and refugees. She also does outreach work in UK prisons and detention centres. She is currently finishing her 6th book, a collection of travel writing from Italy, India, and China; she is also completing her first poetry collection.

    Clare Argar

    Clare is Head of Community Campaigns and Programmes at the National Literacy Trust and has previously worked as an editor. She has an MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and is a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

    Rachel Piercey

    Rachel won the Newdigate Prize in 2008. She has worked as a travel guide editor and as Education Coordinator at The Poetry Society, and is an editor at the Emma Press. She has published two pamphlets, ‘The Flower and the Plough’ (2013), and ‘Rivers, Wanted’ (2013).

  • Portraits

    Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane

    Alan and Jeremy’s collaborations include the Folk Archive, which gathers an array of objects alongside documentation of performances and events associated with Britain’s local folk culture. In addition, Alan and Jeremy have produced The Home Office collection of art from prisons, secure hospitals and young offenders institutions. This curatorial artwork included many artworks submitted into the Koestler Awards.

    Jeremy is a Turner-prize winning artist. He has also represented Britain at the 2013 Venice Biennale.

    Alan’s artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally. In addition, Alan has made works for television with Art Angel and for TfL’s Art on the Underground series.

  • Printmaking

    Susan Aldworth

    Susan is an artist and printmaker. Her work is held in many public and private collections including the V&A, the British Museum, The Wellcome Collection Library in the UK and Williams College Museum of Contemporary Art in USA. Working as an artist-in-residence in a medical or scientific setting is central to Aldworth’s practice to explore the different personal, medical and scientific narratives around human identity.

    Gill Saunders

    Gill is the Senior Curator of prints at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. she is also a broadcaster and author, with titles including ‘Wallpaper in Interior Decoration’ and ‘Recording Britain’

     

  • Radio Play

    Kate Potts

    Kate is a poet and creative writing lecturer who is currently completing a practice-based PhD on the poetic radio play. Her pamphlet ‘Whichever Music’ was a Poetry Book Society choice and was shortlisted for a Michael Marks award, and she received an Arts Council award towards her first full length poetry collection Pure Hustle (Bloodaxe, 2011).

  • Radio Production

    Dorothy Feaver

    Dorothy is a documentary maker for BBC Radio 4 and managing editor for Manifesta Biennial.

  • Rap, Hip Hop and Grime

    Ghetts

    Justin ‘Ghetts’ Clarke is one of the UK’s most highly acclaimed Grime MCs. After a stint in prison as a teenager, Ghetts began releasing music as a member of the pioneering N.A.S.T.Y Crew alongside fellow Grime veterans Kano and Jammer. He went on to release a number of classic mixtapes before his 2014 debut album Rebel With a Cause. Known for a quick-fire, biting style, Ghetts has most recently collaborated with Stormzy and Shakka, and is set to release a second album later this year.

  • Screenplay

    Madani Younis

    Madani is Artistic Director at the Bush Theatre, London. He has also worked nationally and internationally as theatre director, writer and practitioner. Madani originally trained in film, and his debut short film Ellabellapumpanella, commissioned by the UK Film Council, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007.

    Isabel Adomakoh Young

    Isabel is an actor, writer, and activist. She is a drag performer with Pecs Drag Kings, member of the National Youth Theatre, and co-author of children’s book trilogy ‘Lionboy’. Complicite’s stage show of Lionboy toured the UK in December 2014 and transferred to New York, South Korea, South Africa and Hong Kong. Isabel frequently represents campaigns for equality and diversity, as well as writing and speaking on these issues for Marie Claire, The Guardian, Virago Press and The Huffington Post. Isabel is also one of the directors of Brainchild, an award-winning multidisciplinary festival which launched in 2012.

    Femi Martin

    Femi Martin is a writer and performer from London, based in Surrey. She began her career performing flash fiction on London’s spoken word scene before becoming the Dickens 2012 Young Writer in Residence in February 2012. Femi has featured on BBC Radio 4 in The Achalasia Diaries (2015) and as host of the Seriously podcast (2016).  Her new play, I Am Not There, was developed with support from  Talawa Theatre Company, Soho Theatre, and The Carne Trust.

  • Sculpture

    Caroline Woodley

    Caroline studied at Glasgow School of Art and currently lives in London where she works as publishing director for Afterall, a research and publishing organisation at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. She also writes on art and literature for various art magazines and literary blogs.

    Tom Woolner

    Tom is a London-based artist, working predominately in sculpture and performance. He recently completed a residency and exhibition at Site Gallery in Sheffield and was part of the performance event, More Soup and Tart, at the Barbican, London.

    Gaia Fuggaza

    Gaia is an Italian artist now living in London. Her work is mainly based on paintings and performances. She is currently completing a Master in Fine Art at the University of the Arts London (Chelsea) thanks to a Vice Chancellor scholarship. Recent solo shows include Studiolo #9 at Spazio Cabinet, Milano and Shikinen Sengu, Oratorio San Ludovico, Venice. Gaia has collaborated in several independents art projects such as LaGénérale en Manufacture in Sèvres, Isola Art Center in Milan and Interflugs in Berlin. She has also curated several group exhibitions.

    Shama Khanna

    Shama is a freelance curator, educator and writer based in London. Over the course of her career she has presented projects at many galleries, including Showroom, E:vent gallery, and Tate. She writes for Aorist as well as numerous independent publications. She also teaches at Kingston University.

  • Singer-songwriter – Original

    Serious

    Claire Whitaker, Octavia Van Oss, Grace Lindley and Katie Pattinson work at Serious, one of the UK’s leading producers of live music concerts, tours and festivals, including EFG London Jazz Festival.

  • Songwriting

    Thomas Bove

    Thomas Bove studied music composition at the Conservatoire of Geneva in Switzerland. He currently works as a classical composer and pianist, and as a singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and recording artist.

     

  • Spoken Word

    Femi Martin

    Femi Martin is a writer and performer from London, based in Surrey. She began her career performing flash fiction on London’s spoken word scene before becoming the Dickens 2012 Young Writer in Residence in February 2012. Femi has featured on BBC Radio 4 in The Achalasia Diaries (2015) and as host of the Seriously podcast (2016).  Her new play, I Am Not There, was developed with support from  Talawa Theatre Company, Soho Theatre, and The Carne Trust.

  • Stage Play

    Neil Grutchfield

    Neil is a script reader with 15 years’ experience. He worked as New Writing Manager for  the Synergy Theatre Project and as Literary Manager at Hampstead Theatre. He has done freelance work for a wide range of organisations including the Royal Court and Soho Theatre.

    Jennifer Joseph

    Jennifer Joseph is an actor who graduated from Clean Break, a prison theatre charity, and has performed in the all-female production of the Shakespeare Trilogy – Julius Caesar, Henry IV and The Tempest – at the Donmar Warehouse in London, and has had roles in several films, including Honeytrap and TV’s My Mad Fat Diary.

  • Textile Art

    Enam Gbewonyo

    Enam is a curator and multimedia textile artist. Her work merges textile and surface pattern techniques with traditional painting practises, resulting in textural works translating ideals of humanity through nature’s tactility. In 2015 Enam founded the Black British Female Artist (BBFA) Collective in an effort to provide platforms for emerging female artists of the Diaspora to exhibit and build a presence in the art world.

    Jessica Light

    Jessica is one of the last working trimming weavers in the UK. Jessica designs, weaves and makes contemporary and innovative passementerie (trims and tassles) for interiors and fashion.

  • Watercolour

    Cullinan Richards

    Jeanine Richards and Charlotte Cullinan are an artistic duo producing work from traditional means. They are largely concerned with how the idea of ‘the exhibition’ can be a medium in itself. Internationally exhibited artists and professors of Fine Art at Kingston University, London.

    Mark Titchner

    Mark Titchner is an artist who lives and works in London. He was nominated for the Turner Prize for a solo show at the Arnolfini, Bristol, in which he displayed the sculptural installation ‘How To Change Behaviour (Tiny Masters Of The World Come Out)’. His work is held in the permanent collections of the South London Gallery, the United Kingdom Government Art Collection and the Tate Gallery.

  • Woodcraft

    Geoff Nunn

    Geoff left school at the age of 15 and trained in joinery and carpentry which led to a varied career including manufacturing, managament and teaching. He also taught at Highdown Prison.

    Doris Simon

    Doris studied ceramics and sculpture in Brussels. She has an MA in sculpture at the Royal College of Arts, and retrained as a carpenter at Lambeth College.


Looking round the entries to the Koestler Awards is like taking a tour through the collective subconscious. Here are the concerns, hopes and obsessions of thousands of people.

Grayson Perry, artist