Curated by Joelle Taylor

2 November – 17 December 2023
Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY features nearly 200 artworks across visual, writing and music categories entered into the 2023 Koestler Awards for art in the criminal justice system, by individuals in prisons, secure mental health facilities, immigration removal centres, young offender institutions and on community sentences across the UK. Having worked in prisons for over twenty years, Joelle Taylor’s motivation for this year’s exhibition is to showcase the talent and imagination that springs from secure settings. Choosing from over 8,000 pieces sent into this year’s Awards, the poet selected artworks that showcase both excellence and ingenuity. These qualities are shown in different ways by the artists, through concept, skill and story-telling, as well as through the use of unusual materials that highlights their resourcefulness. These include artworks made from crisp packets, prison issue soap, rice, seeds and even clinical waste bags.

Shaped by her own work, the poet’s focus settled on the idea of vitrines and glass display cases as a way of exploring themes of separation and connection. The title, IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, encourages visitors to complete the well-known phrase with ‘break glass’. All the artworks will be encased in various ways, whether literally or metaphorically, and this design will help to draw attention to these themes. Visitors will be invited to think about the way we present and look at things and how it feels to be on either side of the glass.

Exhibition Opening Times:

Mon-Tues: 10am – 5.30pm, Wed-Sun: 10am – 8pm

Please note, the exhibition will be closed all day on Tuesday 28 November, Monday 4 & Tuesday 5 December.

The exhibition will also close early at 5pm on Thursday 9, 16, 23 & 30 November, and at 7.30pm on Sunday 3 December

A photo of the back of a Koestler Arts volunteer in front of a wall of artwork with a top that says 'Here to help'.

Exhibition Tours

Free exhibition tours will are available to the public at set times, by specially trained guides who have personal experience of the criminal justice system.

The guides will be happy to talk more about the important role creativity plays in the criminal justice system and to supply more information about the wider work of Koestler Arts.

Public tour times:
Thursday: 3pm & 4.30pm
Friday: 3pm & 6pm
Saturday & Sunday: 3pm & 4pm


Some of the artworks on display in this exhibition are for sale, and available to purchase via our online shop.

There is also a range of Koestler Arts merchandise, including our newest poetry anthology, as well as some smaller pieces of artwork available to purchase at our pop-up shop, located at the back of the exhibition.

Shop for artwork


This exhibition is made possible by the generous support from individuals, trusts and foundations, businesses and organisations.

Special thanks to our exhibition partners, the Southbank Centre, and our exhibition sponsors: Elysium Healthcare, Sodexo Justice Services and Serco.

The writing categories, our biennial poetry anthology and the Voices from Prison even are kindly supported by the T.S. Eliot Foundation.

The Visitors’ Choice Awards for the public’s favourite exhibited artworks have been funded by Doughty Street Chambers.