Catching Dreams: The Koestler Exhibition
The catching dreams exhibition features selected entries to the Koestler awards created by prisoners, offenders on community sentences, secure psychiatric patients and immigration detainees. Held at the Southbank Centre, London, here we're given an opportunity to experience works by some of society's most marginalised.
As expected, the quality of art is generally high, categorized into poetry, music, animation, ceramics, sculpture, drawings, paintings and installations. The diverse array of exhibits makes for an eclectic feast of art and there exists talent enough to suggest that many of the artists could potentially pursue careers in art and design.
Janetka Platun's specially commissioned 'Lights Out' installation – a room lightened and darkened every two minutes and 32 seconds – was a highlight. The timing corresponds to the frequency of people entering and leaving prisons in the UK. A selection of poetry is visible by light and likewise the darkness reveals hitherto unseen poems printed on the wall in luminous ink.
The outstanding works, for me, are an oil on fabric piece 'Untitled x2', derivative of Basquiat on one face and Picasso the other – vibrant and technically adept. A hip-hop song entitled 'Last Chance Saloon' demonstrated fluid rapping abilities by a resident at Parc Prison. 'Plant Life', a short animation, was also touching.
The Koestler Trust say, "We passionately believe the arts have the power to transform lives." Art can be both therapeutic and rehabilitative. These exhibitions will always be valuable to participants and public alike.