Unlock the talent inside

Since 1962 the Koestler Awards have played a unique, national role in motivating prisoners, secure hospital patients and immigration detainees to take part in the arts. The Koestler Awards are simple and powerful – we reward achievement, build self-confidence and broaden horizons for some of society’s most disadvantaged and marginalised people.

Our work harnesses the uniquely transformative power of the arts to help individuals learn the skills and gain the confidence to live creative, positive and productive lives. Each year we receive more than 7,000 entries from over 3,500 entrants across the UK in 52 categories. More than 2,000 Awards are granted by over 100 esteemed judges, and each year culminates in a curated exhibition at Southbank Centre which showcases the incredible power of the arts to transform lives.

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First Day of Judging

Matchstick Models – A Match Made in Heaven

The Koestler Awards 2018 judging period has kicked off, with matchstick model expert, Andrew Wright, judging the category which he loves dearly. As a returning judge who has supported the Koestler Trust for over a decade, Andrew never ceases to be amazed by the time, effort and enthusiasm that is put into the entries. From dreamlike human figures, to prison cells, to a minimalistic depiction of the twin towers, Andrew thoroughly enjoyed his day spent amongst the 2018 Matchstick entries. He tells us more about his thought process below:


Have any of the pieces stood out for you, and why?

There is a model which is just called ‘Shank’, and this is a very impressive piece of art, more than a model because when I look at it I can see the human form and there is a lot more meaning to this than even I have fully understood at first look.

What would you like to see more / less of in the matchstick category?

I would definitely like to see more of the models being here. It is unfortunate that some of the models are only represented by photographs.

It is surprising that there is not one gypsy caravan here. This I think is the first year in all of my time… that there hasn’t been a gypsy caravan, but please don’t take that as, ‘oh gosh, he’s looking for… next year’s there’s got to be lots of Gypsy caravans’, because that’s not the case! Times change, and if I look at it this year, there are more windmills than there have been before. Perhaps that’s the current fashion.

What advice do you have for matchstick makers?

Keep modelling. You will only become a more proficient modeller with practice. Some people are fortunate to be given the talent that when they do it for the first time, they produce an excellent model.

The one thing that I would say that would set some of the models apart from the others, is know when to stop. There are one or two models here today where it looks to me as though people have been adding pieces on and that has begun to take away from the model. I know that that sounds peculiar, adding pieces and taking away, but that is definitely the case.

Also, consider whether you need to use paint and colour. Sometimes you need colour to offset the colour of the wood. Sometimes there are models that are completely covered in paint, and it does not help the model. So, think carefully about the other materials that you introduce.

But number one piece of advice: keep on modelling, keep practicing and you will improve!