Sitting Together, HM Prison Bronzefield

Koestler Arts presents The I and the We curated by Camille Walala and Sarah Ihler-Meyer

Koestler Arts’ fourteenth annual London exhibition opens at the Southbank Centre this week. This year’s edition, entitled The I and the We is curated by Camille Walala and Sarah Ihler-Meyer.

The exhibition will showcase artwork by people across the UK’s criminal justice system which was entered into the 2021 Koestler Awards. The charity aims to help prisoners, secure patients and detainees lead more positive lives by supporting them to participate and achieve in the arts. Their exhibitions increase public awareness and understanding of art by people in the criminal justice system, ultimately reframing the way we see prisoners, and allowing them a creative voice in a system that can often be silencing.

Camille Walala and Sarah Ihler-Meyer

Curators Camille Walala (right) and Sarah Ihler-Meyer (left)

This year’s exhibition will be curated by artist Camille Walala and her curator sister Sarah Ihler-Meyer.  Together they selected over 200 pieces to display from more than 6,400 entries.

Walala and Ihler-Meyer’s bright and bold exhibition design lights up the Royal Festival Hall’s Spirit Level exhibition space with over 200 selected pieces in a variety of mediums across craft, fine art, music, animation and writing. The exhibition will be presented to the public by ex-prisoner exhibition hosts who have received specialist training to lead tours, answer questions and share their first-hand experience of the importance of art and creativity for those within the criminal justice system.

The unique and beautiful pieces, including sculptures carved from prison-issue soap, a dinosaur constructed from scrap paper, a tram and boat painstakingly produced from matchsticks, a painted collage composed of grains of rice and a portrait painted with coffee, are a testament to the ingenuity and commitment many have managed to bring to their creative practice.

Sitting Together, HM Prison Bronzefield

In an environment which alternates between clinical brightness and a dreadful darkness, Koestler brings permission for colour, texture and light. Every prisoner should be given a brush and told to make a mark – perhaps then less would return” comments a previously exhibited artist.

Camille Walala said: “I was so grateful to see the amazing pieces from these artists. I found them all quite emotional and inspiring. All the ones we selected give us a strong feeling – these artworks will make you laugh, cry and smile, sometimes all at once.”


The I and the We, Spirit Level Exhibition Space, Royal Festival Hall. Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX
29 October – 5 December 2021. Mon – Wed 10am – 6pm, Thu – Sun 10am – 9pm. Free entry
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