Prison Arts Celebrated

Northern Ireland prisoners have won two first prizes and landed more than 29 awards in a prestigious UK-wide competition for prison arts.

Artwork from Maghaberry and Hydebank Wood was among 150 original visual pieces on display at the annual Koestler Awards Exhibition which previewed at the Royal Festival Hall in London today.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service submitted around 100 pieces from a wide range of disciplines including painting and drawing, creative writing, film, pottery, music, needlework, photography, and sculpture.

Two entries from Northern Ireland won top prize in their respective areas. These were 'Bits and Pieces', a woodcraft entry from Maghaberry, which won the Jeffrey Archer Platinum Award, which was created by light and dark wood from different trees which was carved into a bowl. A drawing entitled 'The Nude', produced in Hydebank won the Kalyx Gold award.

The Awards attracted 5,867 entries in total this year from prisoners throughout the UK and prizes are given in 49 categories.

Maghaberry Head of Education, Geoff Moore praised the wide artistic spectrum of work submitted by inmates.

"It is excellent that Maghaberry prisoners were awarded so many prizes.

"It is a great achievement that we have won no less than seven for paintings for oil on acrylic, to performance of original music, to woodcrafts to drawings."

In total, Maghaberry received 17 awards and Hydebank Wood 12 awards.

Hydebank Wood was also given three Highly Commended Awards for 'A Weekend's Work' which is a drawing piece made from pastel, a sculpture entitled 'A Happy Flower' and a pottery item called 'A Speckled Vessel'.

Hydebank Wood Artist-in-Residence, Anne Scullin said: "Both competing in and indeed winning art competitions all motivates and encourages the inmates to produce beautiful art," while Robin Masefield, Director of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, congratulated all the award-winners.

He said: "The work being produced in our three establishments is of a very high standard and it is heartening to see so many different pieces given due recognition in this year's Koestler Awards.

"I would like to pay tribute to those who have used their time so productively and to NIPS staff who work so hard to help inmates discover previously hidden artistic talents," he concluded.


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