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We Are All Human Exhibition |”Being able to be creative in prison has really been a sanity saver”

This month, the results from this years Koestler Awards were announced and we were were left buzzing after it was revealed we had picked up 12 awards, including 2 Platinum and 2 Gold!

With all the buzz behind the announcement, we decided to check out this year’s exhibition at the Southbank centre, London, to see the incredible ‘We Are All Human’ exhibition. This is the Koestler Trust‘s annual national showcase of arts by prisoners, ex-offenders and immigration detainees – all curated by writer and dub-poet Benjamin Zephaniah. I was shown around by an exhibition guide who was an ex-prisoner himself, who gave a real insight into the works on show.

From matchsticks modelling to hand-stitched chocolate bars, this exhibition showcases a wide range of art forms and it was wonderful to see the recognition given to these highly talented artist, regardless of their social background or current circumstance. Through every piece you see and almost feel the passion they have and the work they put into making a personal masterpiece to remember, some taking four or even 18 months to finish and some even taking longer.

The majority of those that enter prison have no clue of their own potential. Having everything stripped away from them they often channel their emotions into art or music – an outlet which allows them to express a lot more than what’s on the surface.
It’s clear that many discover themselves through the power of art…and whether it’s drawing or music it all begins with a pencil and a piece of paper…. Showing that the littlest things we take for granted in life are often the tools we need to stabilise our future and achieve great things…

I’ll leave you with a poem from the exhibition:


Dirty Laundry

We all arrive soiled, some more than others

The source of lost pride for so many fathers and mothers.

The wash program selected by the judge and the jury;

But so often injustice – the cause of much fury.


Locked inside the drum, the cycle begins 

The theory is simple – to wash away sins.

Clean once more, the rinse cycle starts

Time has been served, a cleansing of hearts.

Freshly laundered, the washing is aired 

Inside for so long, many are scared.

The final task; it is time for pressing 

Iron out the creases, the fresh start is a blessing.


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