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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  • We Are All Human

    Curated by Benjamin Zephaniah
    15 Sep – 13 Nov 2016
    Southbank Centre, London

We Are All Human

Art by Offenders, Secure Patients and Detainees from the 2016 Koestler Awards
Curated by Benjamin Zephaniah
15 Sep – 13 Nov 2016
Southbank Centre, London

16k7012We are all Human is the UK’s annual national showcase of arts by prisoners, ex-offenders on community sentences, secure psychiatric patients and immigration detainees. It is the ninth exhibition in an ongoing partnership between the Koestler Trust and Southbank Centre.

This year’s show was curated by writer and dub–poet Benjamin Zephaniah. The exhibition features a wide range of artforms including painting, drawing, matchstick modelling, craft, music and writing, exploring themes of time, contemplation and the natural environment.


Prison is a concrete jungle so I wanted to get as much nature into the exhibition as possible. We are all human – it’s a really simple truth.

Benjamin Zephaniah 2016

Working alongside Southbank Centre exhibition hosts, to welcome visitors and invigilate the exhibition, are ex-prisoners, specially recruited, trained and employed by the Koestler Trust. As well as gaining unique work experience and new skills, the hosts deepen visitors’ engagement with the exhibition, enabling audiences to
hear first-hand how the arts reflect and enrich the lives of people in secure and criminal justice settings.

Spirit Level
Southbank Centre

Open Daily 10am – 11pm
Free Entry



Exhibition Partners
koestler-trust        southbank-centre        national-offender-management-service


Exhibition Supporters
arts-council-england       sodexo       partnership-in-care