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.

Read more about us

  • I'm Still Here

Lucy, HM Young Offenders Institution Cookham Wood, Lord Ramsbotham Under 25s Special Award for Portrait 2018

I’m Still Here

Art by prisoners, secure patients and detainees, entered into the 2018 Koestler Awards.

Curated by prisoners’ families

19 September – 4 November 2018

Exhibition Space, Level 1, Royal Festival Hall

What’s it like having a loved one in prison? Our I’m Still Here exhibition featured artwork entered into the 2018 Koestler Awards for arts in criminal justice. Curated by families supporting someone inside, each family selected artworks that illustrate their experiences. Their exhibition featured a diverse range of art, writing and music being created by prisoners, secure patients and detainees, as well as people on community sentences, across the UK.

I’m Still Here is the 11th exhibition produced in partnership with Southbank Centre, and followed the 2017 exhibition Inside, curated by Antony Gormley.

Watch the highlights of the exhibition:

Working alongside Southbank Centre exhibition hosts to welcome visitors and invigilate the exhibition, are ex-prisoner Hosts were specially recruited, trained and employed by  Koestler Arts. As well as gaining valuable work experience and new skills, the hosts offered first-hand insight on how the arts reflect and transform the lives of those in secure and criminal justice settings.

Unilink Visitors’ Choice Awards

The powerful writing, music and fine art exhibited in I’m Still Here moved thousands of people. At Christmas we forwarded on 5,096 notes of appreciation, written by visitors while voting on their favourite works, to the artists who made them.

We also gave additional awards, supported by Unilink, to the pieces that received the most ‘votes’. The four artworks at the top of the below online gallery won Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze Visitors’ Choice Awards.

Online gallery

Read a selection of poetry from the exhibition (PDF)