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Notes from Grendon – Koestler Awards Entries 2019

By James Latunji-Cockbill, Producer – Art at HMP Grendon

Each year Koestler Arts award and give feedback to over 3000 people across 50 categories for submitting artwork. This year there were over 60 entries from HMP Grendon, including painting, drawing, poetry and mixed media. Written feedback from judges and volunteers forms a key part of this process and is shared below, along with images of the work.

Killing Time – Koestler Awards Certificate for Painting

This is a terrific piece, with what ought to be a fairly bleak scene rendered into something blackly warm and comical with its surrealistic approach and comforting choice of colours. The detailing on the flagstone floor and stone walls is particularly effective – and the choice detail of April Fool’s Day is inspired. But it is the choice of the warm purple to depict the moonlit scene that brings the whole piece to life. Despite the bleak setting I really warmed to this – well done!

We Can Live Together – Highly Commended Award for Themed Category: Interlude

Shades of Banksy, as I’m sure you know. I find this a very powerful painting. You are addressing the theme of interlude. I can only hope that this is an interlude, that it will come to an end and that your title will be realised. The rope ladder tells me that your title is ironic and that you are not optimistic. Everything is very well painted. Your rope ladder leads the eye down until, at the bottom, we discover that it is just painted itself. Clever. The whole painting is clever, but very sad.

Wonderland – Bronze Award for Painting

The wonderful curling shapes of the trees, tall and rhythmic, are a strong feature of this magical image. The strong, vibrant sky adds a surreal feeling and the mauve path adds a further mysterious quality. The hedges remind me of the French painter Rousseau, a master of surreal landscapes.

Each year the Koestler submissions form the basis for the exhibition at HMP Grendon, this year held on Wednesday 29 January 2020. For more information or to attend the exhibition and see these three works among many others, please get in touch with the project’s Producer, James Latunji-Cockbill.

Want to read more? Find all Art at HMP Grendon blog posts here. 

Art at HMP Grendon is supported by the Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust and HM Prison and Probation Service.


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