Excelling at the annual Koestler awards has become something of a tradition for our Creative Writing and Music groups in HMP Magilligan. This year was no exception and the ceremony held today in HMP Magilligan, Northern Ireland Prison Services’ medium to low security prison, sees the presentation of 17 Awards by PAF’s Executive Director Fred Caulfield.
The Koestler Trust annual exhibition celebrated its 10th anniversary in the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank Centre, London. Anthony Gormley, sculptor best known for his ‘Angel of the North’, curated the exhibition which was titled ‘Inside’.
The selected artworks were produced by detainees in prisons, secure hospitals, and immigration removal centres and also ex-offenders in the community.
HMP Magilligan gained 17 awards: 3 silver, 3 bronze, 4 highly commended, 6 commended, and a first time entrant award. The awards were granted over many categories: singer-song writing, sculpture, screen-play, graphic design, flash fiction and short story, longer fiction and novel, anthology, poetry collections, and individual poem.
In the latest Winter Issue of our in house prison magazine TIME IN you can also read ‘Forever Inside’ by PM, a commended award for Longer Fiction & Novel and ’99 years’ by SF, a highly commended award for Original Song. To download a copy click on the cover page below. There are also some interesting features which include Child Centred visits, an interview with Holocaust survivor Martin Stern, homophobia in prison, and PAF’s mentoring updates.
The Koeslter awards, when first established in 1962 by Hungarian-British author and journalist Arthur Koestler had around 200 entries. This year’s awards were selected from over 7,000 submissions. Sally Taylor, Chief Executive speaking at the launch in September said, ‘there is immense creativity among the prison population’. Taylor added, ‘that at a time when there are many pressures on prison resources, the arts can have a transformative impact and can change lives for prisoners, for families, and for people in the community.’ Taylor also acknowledged the work done by artists and arts organisations in prisons.
Rab Butler, the Home Secretary, opened the very first Koestler Trust exhibition. Following in his predecessor’s foot-steps, Sam Gyimah MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, opened this year’s exhibition. Mr Gyimah said that ‘the arts have a huge role to play in terms of rehabilitation.’ He added, ‘we want prisons to be places of reform,’ and explained that while 1 in 2 prisoners reoffend, the chances of reoffending while engaged with arts in prison is greatly reduced. He concluded, ‘this cannot be underestimated and putting arts at the centre of what we do makes a huge difference.’
Shân Maclennan, Creative Director at the South-bank Centre, said at the opening that ‘in the arts, be it music, poetry, visual arts, we are all people first; all you ever are is a person. Art is a great equaliser.’
Anthony Gormley noted his reason for accepting the invitation to curate the exhibition: ‘I wanted to celebrate a great resource: the imaginations of over 95,000 prisoners currently in the UK.’
Koestler wanted art in prison to be appraised and rewarded outside the prison system. Thanks to the Koestler Trust this precedent continues today.
Our Artists in Residence, working across all three adult prisons in Northern Ireland, have started working with their participants on this years theme for 2018 Koestler Awards, which is ‘Connections’. Watch this space…