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Criminal Justice

Koestler Trust launches women in prison art trail celebrating 100 years of votes for women

The Koestler Trust has produced an art trail of Koestler Award-winning artworks by today’s women prisoners commemorating the centenary of women’s suffrage.  All the artworks will be displayed from International Women’s Day on 8 March.  The Koestler Trust is a prison arts charity, working in prisons, secure hospitals, immigration centres, young offender institutions and in the community.

The idea is simple but powerful: to exhibit 100 framed paintings, drawings, sculptures and poems by women in prison in important venues and public buildings throughout the UK. The trail will shine a light on women in prison 100 years on from the 1918 Representation of the People Act which was preceded by a suffragette campaign which led to the imprisonment of many of its supporters.

These ‘corridors of power’ will display around 100 artworks by over 50 women who have entered artwork and poetry into the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Koestler Awards.  The project will play a part in the Vote 100 celebrations which will be taking place throughout 2018 celebrating the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act which granted women the right to vote.

Many suffragettes were famously imprisoned 100 years ago and this trail will shine a light on the challenges faced by women in prison in 2018, put their challenges on the agenda of policy makers and catalyse improvement in the treatment and rehabilitation of women prisoners.

A wide range of venues will be participating in the art trail from the worlds of the arts, government, and criminal justice for 12 months representing the many different spaces which touch the lives of women in prison today and touched those of the suffragettes 100 years ago.  Participating venues include:

  • Old Bailey, London – where suffragettes and women today have faced trial
  • St George’s Hall, Liverpool – the site of the first suffragette protest
  • Houses of Parliament, London – offices of members of the Justice Committee, Baroness Corston and Lord Ramsbotham
  • New Scotland Yard, London, as well as police commissioners and police stations
  • The Pankhurst Centre, Manchester – home of the Pankhurst family and now a women’s centre
  • Emily Wilding Davison Library, Royal Holloway University, Surrey – named after their suffragette alumna
  • Headquarters of the prison services in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
  • All the UK women’s prisons

The venues will each display one framed artwork either in private or public spaces, include institutions, policy-makers, educators and support networks which touch the lives of women in prison – including police stations, courts, prisons, women’s centres and approved premises – as well as arts and public spaces which will publicly show the talent of women in prison and raise awareness of the challenges which they face.

The art trail is supported by Barrow Cadbury Trust to celebrate the life and work of Helen Cadbury, our former chair (and great granddaughter of Barrow Cadbury) who sadly died in June 2017 at the age of 52. Helen was a staunch champion of women prisoners, and of the arts and prison reform, as well as a poet and author, who would have relished the idea of the works of art of women prisoners being exhibited in the corridors of power.

@koestlertrust #100YearsOn