RE:FORM is the UK’s annual national showcase of arts by prisoners, offenders on community sentences, secure psychiatric patients and immigration detainees. Last Wednesday saw the launch of this year’s exhibition in an ongoing partnership between the Koestler Trust and Southbank Centre.
This year’s show was curated by Southbank Centre and the Koestler Trust to showcase many of the pieces chosen for Koestler Awards by over 150 arts professionals including Carol Ann Duffy, Speech Debelle, the BFI and Hot Chip. Specially commissioned texts by artists Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane, curator and writer Shama Khanna, editor of Afterall Books Caroline Woodley and Koestler Award-winner Ben add insight and context.
Working alongside Southbank Centre exhibition hosts, to welcome visitors and invigilate the exhibition, are ex-offenders, specially recruited, trained and employed by the Koestler Trust. As well as gaining unique work experience and new skills, the hosts deepen visitors’ engagement with the exhibition, enabling audiences to hear first-hand how the arts reflect and enrich the lives of people in secure and criminal justice settings.
Viewers are treated to a wide range of art by offenders that moves, inspires, brings insights and show’s the value that creativity can bring in the most difficult situations.
Some pieces were from penal agencies that have grown over recent times as our world changes.
One anonymous picture of a group of feeding pigeons below a loaf of bread was particularly poignant as was its Bigger Picture title and caption : The Majority of prisoners are too busy fighting for crumbs to see the Bigger Picture.
At the opening of the exhibition a piece that gained much attention was a conceptual self portrait composed of words on plastic colour and was described and performed by the artist Floyd Paul.
He has managed to get over his time inside and working with his brother he is getting recognition for his creativity.
Their work is featured here : http://www.saatchiart.com/floydandphoenix
Also by Mark is the arresting and surprising pastel drawing from the West Midlands and Staffordshire : Boris in the Shadow of Mrs T
The show will run to 29th November 2015 daily, 10am-11pm, free admission. For the full programme of unique and inspiring events happening throughout the exhibition, please see our website: http://www.koestlertrust.org.uk/pages/exhibitions/re-form and
Read more at http://websta.me/n/koestlertrust#mScCZBEys2042yVi.99
Speaking at the opening Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, said: “The Koestler Trust provides an opportunity for prisoners not to be defined by their worst moments, but to use art and creativity to encourage the better angels of their nature. We can see how they have explored a future of possibility and hope through the beautiful art and poetry on display in this exhibition at Southbank Centre.”
At the opening I was very pleased to meet the current High Sheriff of Kent who with his partner are working with the Trust and the 7 prisons locally. @KentHighSheriff
I also was introduced to Ms Sally Varah DL who was a High Sheriff of Surrey and has continued to support the Trust and develop new projects across the country.