Inspiring success at the Koestler Awards 2018

HMP Oakwood in Staffordshire, England came top in 2017 with the highest number of entries to the Koeslter Awards. Koestler challenged establishments sending in entries to beat their 98 this year.

In April 2018 PAF submitted 166 entries on behalf of our workshop participants engaging in our ‘Residency’ programme in HMP Maghaberry, HMP Magilligan and Hydebank Wood College.  For the first time this year’s entries also include art works, recordings of writing and live performances by mentees taking part in our pilot community based ‘Arts Mentoring’ programme.
Our Libération showcase event held in the Crumlin Road Gaol won a First-Time entrant Award for Art Project.  We wanted to give all of our participants a platform and a challenge to display their work as authentic artists. When individuals see themselves as worthy to put their individual artistic expression in public for others to engage with, it’s empowering! After a successful exhibition, participants may wonder what else they can do in the public realm. For participants lacking self-esteem, putting up work with peers can boost academic and artistic confidence. This year we were able to include mentees in the process carrying out a successful exhibition, this gave them the opportunity to engage in the entire artistic process, from conception, to creation, to communication with an audience. We hope that this experience will have a profound influence on those mentees for years to come.

PAF entrants won  an impressive 72 awards in total this year’s Koestler results, our highest achievement to date.  The total prize money awarded to our entrants was £1020 and the number of talented artists, writers, musicians and performers receiving individual or group awards was 127.  
This years award success includes
  • 6 Gold Awards
  • 9 Silver Awards
  • 7 Bronze Awards
  • 23 Highly Commended Awards
  • 19 Commended Awards
  • 8 First Time Entrant Awards
‘I’m Still Here’ ran from 19 Sept – 4 Nov 2018 in the Southbank Centre, London.  It was an exhibition of artwork entered into the 2018 Koestler Awards, selected by families supporting someone inside.  Each family selected artworks that spoke to them, and illustrated their experiences.  The exhibition featured the 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.  Our entrants were proud to have 10 pieces included in the exhibition.
We have created a visual gallery for you to look at, showcasing some of the winning art and other works: 


A Day Out at the Market
Silver Award for Painting PAF Mentee JM
Hands of Time
Zelda Cheatle Commended Award for Photography PAF Mentee SG
Hard Times
Commended Award for Photography PAF Mentee SG
Minds Eye
Commended Award for Painting PAF Mentee JM
Silver Award for Photography PAF Mentee SG
The Bird (2017)
Highly Commended Award for Painting PAF Mentee CJ
The Thinking Man
Bronze Award for Painting PAF Mentee JM
Renee Cressey Highly Commended Award for Textile Art PAF Mentee RZ
Highly Commended Award for Portrait PAF Mentee SG
Artists' Collecting Society Gold Award for Printmaking PAF Mentee RZ
Matthew Cornish Highly Commended Award for Textile Art PAF Mentee RZ
Daddy's Boy
First-Time Entrant Award for Themed HMP Maghaberry entrant
Hits the Right Note
Highly Commended Award for Woodcraft HMP Maghaberry entrant
Highly Commended Award for Craft Inspiring Change group entry with Edward Street Hostel Simon Community NI
I Love you
Selected by families supporting someone inside for the I'm Still Here exhibition at Southbank Centre London HMP Maghaberry entrant
Time In Issue 10
Highly Commended Award for Graphic Design HMP Magilligan Creative Writing group
Time In Issue 11
Highly Commended Award for Graphic Design HMP Magilligan Creative Writing group
Visiting Hour - A collection of short stories
Highly Commended Award for Anthology HMP Magilligan Creative Writing group
We who Live in Prison
Highly Commended Award for Poetry Collection HMP Magilligan Creative Writing group
Moving Forward
First-Time Entrant Award for Craft Selected by families supporting someone inside for the I'm Still Here exhibition at Southbank Centre London PAF Mentee CJ
Summer Days (2017)
Commended Award for Painting PAF Mentee CJ
Commended Award for Mural and Wall Hanging Inspiring Change project with patients in Shannon Clinic
The Dream that Never Was?
Highly Commended Award for Craft HMP Maghaberry entrant
Another entrant who won Silver in the ‘Stage Play’ category was given the opportunity to have their work showcased by Synergy Theatre Company at Royal Court Theatre in London on 3rd October 2018.  Read Inside time UK article on the event and the three winners HERE

“Just wanted to say ‘thank you’ for everything. It was great to meet you and the folks from Synergy.  I really enjoyed our time in the Royal Court Theatre. I was a wee bit apprehensive about the event beforehand, but everyone made us feel welcome and valued. Thanks again for the opportunity to see my play actually being performed. It was an experience I’ll never forget.”  – PAF Entrant JC

We have created an audio playlist so you can listen to some performing and audio winning works:
This year we have put together a winners anthology for writing categories.  
There was also a number of amazing winning collections and anthologies submitted by our entrants:

“This collection was a pleasure to read and the different voices work very well together.  The way life and relationships outside contrast with the poems depiciting prison life really resonates with me and every poem in this collection feels very polished and complete.  The book is beautifully presented – especially the cover – and the amount of time and care that has gone into its production is obvious.  There is a good variety of form and structure and I particularly liked the sonnets.” Koestler feedback  – Caroline Hammond poet

“This was a really great piece of work: solid, well considered and I particularly liked how the writers had their different voices, but yet they all felt comfortable next to each other in the one space.  Some of the ideas in the stories were wonderful – I especially enjoyed the inflatable friend in ‘Withering Heights’ – but there is imagination like that to be found all the way through the book.  The more personal narratives, like that in ‘London’, also packed a punch, and will linger with the reader.” Koestler Feedback – Rishi Dastidar poet and copywriter