Inside – an exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall, gathers art from prisoners’ entries for the Koestler Awards for works of art by people in the UK’s criminal justice system. For this year’s awards participants were asked to respond to the theme Inside, set by the curator of the exhibition, Antony Gormley.
When I worked as a chaplain in a maximum security prison I became aware that several insights of prisoners, given through word and through works of art, spoke directly to the whole human condition. I was reminded of this when viewing this exhibition.
Here are reproductions of three works of art from the exhibition, the last two with the prisoner’s comment about their work.
A striking watercolour from HMP Channings Wood, which emphasises the blandness of prison life, and the (perhaps slight) hope that seeing beyond the prison can bring.
‘My sister sent me 3 little watercolour papers every couple of months and I used those things thoughtfully… every bit is cathartic and helps to confront the guilt of letting loved ones down. Being able to pour out one’s feelings is completely invaluable.”
‘I find embroidering incredibly relaxing and it relieves my stress. While everything around me turns to rubble I can remain calm.’