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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Small Paper Teddy Bear, HM Prison Stafford, 2015

Craft and Design

Many entries to the craft and design categories of the Koestler Awards have been produced as gifts for friends or family, or as part of coursework for qualifications. Others, such as Matchstick Models, are produced as a specialist hobby, using specially purchased matchsticks bought from the prison ‘canteen’. There are restrictions on tools and materials in secure settings, which limit and challenge the makers to think outside the box.

Koestler Awards craft and design artforms include:

  • Handmade Book
  • Calligraphy
  • Handmade Greetings Card
  • Graphic Design
  • Matchstick Model
  • Craft
  • Woodcraft
  • Furniture
  • Needlecraft
  • Fashion
  • Hairstyling
  • Beauty

> View some of our Craft and Design Award Winners