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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  • Chip Night

Visitors Kiss, HM Prison Peterborough, Commended Award for Mixed Media, 2017

Chip Night

The Koestler East of England Exhibition

Curated by Firstsite’s Young Art Kommunity (YAK)
10 Mar – 03 Jun 2018
Firstsite, Colchester

See a selection of the artworks in the show.

Chip Night is an exhibition of artwork, writing and music from people in prisons, secure hospitals, and on community sentences in the East of England. It has been curated by young people from Firstsite’s Young Art Kommunity (YAK). They have brought together works around the broad theme of identity, having considered how the artists portray their own interests, emotions and situation. This exhibition looks to question our preconceptions of individuals within the criminal justice system.

A different group or individual is invited to curate each Koestler exhibition, giving every show a unique look and voice. For Chip Night, YAK volunteered to take on this challenge. The project involved workshop sessions where YAK learnt about curating and engaged with a range of artwork, writing and music before carefully considering hundreds of entries to the 2017 Koestler Awards from the East of England region. By looking through these works, they considered the realities of life inside, and discussed why people might make art in prison or other secure settings.

Working with Koestler has been a really cool process that allowed us to develop as young curators through putting together this collection of artwork around our chosen theme of identity. Through this we explored things like who people are and what they feel, which sparked interesting conversations among us as a group – hopefully it will open up some amongst the viewers too.

Curator, Young Art Kommunity

Please scroll down to see artworks from the exhibition.

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