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Art success in national exhibition

A new exhibition of 250 artworks from detainees at secure establishments around the UK has opened today featuring 14 pieces from offenders and detainees in the care of G4S
G4S, Art

The event, held by the UK’s best known offender art charity The Koestler Trust, is the annual national showcase of art by prisoners, offenders on community sentences, young people in secure training centres, secure psychiatric patients and detainees at immigration centres.  This year’s exhibition at London’s Southbank Centre is curated by Mercury Prize-winning rapper Speech Debelle, who has selected 250 pieces from more than 7,300 submissions to the Trust during 2013.

Artwork from detainees in six G4S establishments is being exhibited and detainees at four more establishments were recognised with Koestler Trust awards, bringing the total number of accolades to 163.  At the exhibition's opening today, G4S-run HMP & YOI Parc in South Wales also won  special recognition after winning 91 awards, which is more than any other establishment in the UK and the third consecutive year that the prison has achieved this success. 

G4S head of learning and skills in custodial and detention environments, Filomena Fontana, said:

“Art can be tremendously powerful for prisoners and detainees in custody, helping them increase their confidence and inspire them to make positive choices about their future and come to terms with their past.  For many, a Koestler Trust award may be the first time that they have won this kind of accolade and it can be highly motivating in their wider efforts to turn away from offending.

“While art can help build an individual’s sense of self-worth, an important step in rehabilitation, it can also build skills and some offenders can return to their community able to make a living from their creativity.  I am absolutely delighted with the number and quality of winning submissions from offenders and detainees in G4S establishments which is testament not just to the hard work of the detainees but the support, dedication and encouragement  given to them by our teams.”

Chief Executive of the Koestler Trust, Tim Robertson, said:

"HMP & YOI Parc's outstanding record of success in the Koestler Awards is a testament to the excellent education staff and facilities at the prison: they turn prisoners' latent potential into concrete positive achievement. It also reflects the fact that G4S, across all its establishments, takes the arts seriously as a means of learning and rehabilitation." 

About the Koestler Trust         

The Koestler Trust is the UK's best-known prison arts charity. Founded by writer Arthur Koestler (author of the classic prison novel - Darkness at Noon), it has been awarding, exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients for over 50 years.

The Koestler Awards receive over 7,000 entries a year in 60 art forms from over 300 prisons and other establishments - inspiring offenders to take part in the arts, raise their aspirations and transform their lives. Koestler Exhibitions attract 50,000 visitors at venues across the country- showing the public the talent and potential of offenders and people in secure settings. The Trust has no endowment or capital - its work depends entirely on grants and donations. 

About the exhibition

It is the sixth annual Koestler Trust exhibition to be displayed at London’s Southbank Centre and will run until 1st December 2013.

The Strength & Vulnerability Bunker is the sixth exhibition in an on-going partnership between the Koestler Trust and Southbank Centre. From the thousands of entries to the 2013 Koestler Awards, Mercury Prize-winning rapper Speech Debelle has selected artwork that she feels should be preserved as a testament to the importance of human creation. 

For the first time, ex-offenders will be specially recruited, trained and employed by the Koestler Trust as exhibition hosts. They will work alongside Southbank Centre staff to invigilate the exhibition and welcome visitors throughout the ten-week run. As well as offering the participants a unique work experience and new skills, this ground-breaking project will transform the public’s engagement with the exhibition, enabling everyone to hear first-hand how the arts reflect and enrich the lives of people in secure and criminal justice settings.

Detainees from six G4S establishments; Medway and Rainsbrook Secure Training Centres, Oakwood, Parc and Rye Hill prisons as well as Brook House Immigration Removal Centre, are represented at the Koestler Trust exhibition. 

Detainees at four more establishments; Altcourse and Birmingham prisons, Oakhill Secure Training Centre and Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre, received Koestler Trust awards.