Artistic North East prisoners stage exhibition at The Baltic

Creative prisoners are brushing shoulders with the art world as they stage an exhibition at top galleries in the region

Africa Sunset by an inmate at HM Prison Northumberland
Africa Sunset by an inmate at HM Prison Northumberland

Creative prisoners are brushing shoulders with the art world as they stage an exhibition at top galleries in the region.

Inmates who’ve had plenty of time to come up with their favourite works have developed paintings, drawings and sculptures.

Reflections is the first-ever Koestler Trust exhibition of art from prisons in the North East.

The exhibition is being held at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art from October 19 until December 1, while it will be at The Gallery at Gateshead Central Library until November 30.

The project will display more than 100 pieces from prisons, secure hospitals, secure children’s homes and probation services from across the region.

And the free exhibition has been curated by six 14 to 15-year-olds from Gateshead’s Behaviour Support Service – providing them with valuable arts education and practical experience.

The works have been selected from more than 300 entries from the North East for this year’s Koestler Awards – a scheme which has been run for over 50 years by the UK’s best known prison arts charity to promote artistic achievement in the criminal justice system and secure sectors.

Ship in a Bottle by a prisoner at HM Prison Frankland
Ship in a Bottle by a prisoner at HM Prison Frankland
 

Tim Robertson, Koestler Trust chief executive, said: “We are extremely pleased to be holding our first ever exhibition in the North East, and it’s great that it is being hosted by two such prestigious venues. Each year our awards attract many entries from the North East of England and Reflections will be a chance for people from the area to see some of the high-quality art, craft and creative writing being produced within the region’s prison and secure systems.”

Ilaria Longhi, Baltic community programmer, said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity to work with young curators.

“The group were extremely creative, enthusiastic and eager to work with Baltic artists and curators, curators from the Koestler Trust and Gateshead Arts Team. The participants threw themselves into learning new skills and the end result is a credit to their hard work.”

Works will include entries from HM Prison Durham, HM Prison Northumberland at Morpeth, HM Prison Frankland in County Durham, HM Prison and Young Offender Institution Low Newton near Durham, Northgate Hospital in Morpeth, and St Nicholas Hospital in Gosforth. Behaviour Support Unit headteacher, Steve Siddell, said: “The young people really enjoyed being part of this and have gained so much.

“The whole project exceeded my expectations.

“These young people have all had some difficulties in the past, and working with artists and helping decide what went in the exhibition has helped build their self-esteem and confidence.”

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