Following on from the successful exhibition at the British Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, Jeremy Deller who extended arts participation to people in prisons around the UK, will be opening the annual Koestler Trust Prison art exhibition at the Southbank.
Jeremy has been actively involved with the Koestler Trust for over ten years: as a judge for the Awards and also buying over 100 works from the 2004 exhibition and installing them in the Home Office building in London where they still hang.
The Strength & Vulnerability Bunker is the UK’s annual national showcase of arts by prisoners, offenders on community sentences, secure psychiatric patients and immigration detainees. It is the sixth exhibition in an ongoing partnership between the Koestler Trust and Southbank Centre.
This year’s exhibition invites you to enter an atmospheric bunker, filled with images, objects, sounds and films that reveal personal reflections, regrets and hopes. Mercury Prize-winning rapper Speech Debelle has selected artwork, which she feels should be preserved as testament to the importance of human creation, from the thousands of entries to the 2013 Koestler Awards.
For the first time, ex-offenders will be employed as exhibition hosts, working alongside Southbank Centre staff to invigilate the exhibition and welcome visitors throughout the ten-week run. As well as impacting on the individual participants’ skills and experience, this ground-breaking employment project will give an unprecedented public profile to the value of education and employment opportunities for people in the criminal justice system. Visitors will be able to hear first-hand how the arts reflect, and enrich, thousands of people’s lives each year.
The current high levels of re-offending affect us all. To make our society safer, it pays to channel offenders’ energies to positive ends, to build their self-worth and help them learn new skills. The arts are an especially effective way of engaging with offenders who feel alienated from mainstream education and employment, and there is growing evidence that the arts are an effective in changing offenders’ lives. At the Koestler Trust, we monitor and evaluate our activities to review their effectiveness. However, our main role in this debate is to showcase the range and quality of creative work produced in prisons and other criminal justice settings. The artwork we exhibit demonstrates powerfully what offenders can achieve with the right support and educational input.
Opening Tuesday 24 September from 1pm Ends 1 December @ Southbank