2018 is the centenary of women’s suffrage, which was preceded by a suffragette campaign which led to the imprisonment of many of its supporters. To commemorate the anniversary, the Koestler Trust is producing an art trail of Koestler Award-winning artworks by today’s women prisoners.

The idea is simple but powerful: to exhibit 100 framed paintings, drawings, sculptures and poems by women in prison in important venues and public buildings throughout the UK, shining a light on women in prison 100 years on from the 1918 Representation of the People Act (passed on 6 February 1918).

A list of participating venues will be announced at the launch of the 100 YEARS ON at the House of Lords on 1st March. Members of the public were invited to nominate spaces which reflect how important it is to celebrate the creative potential of women prisoners of the past, present and future.

100 YEARS ON will span the UK with venues including women’s prisons, courts, police stations, probation offices, town halls, women’s centres and a wide range of spaces within the criminal justice and the arts sectors. There will also be artwork in the offices of individuals such as Baroness Corston, Lord Ramsbotham, and Dame Vera Baird QC as part of the trail.

The art trail is supported by Barrow Cadbury Trust to celebrate the life and work of Helen Cadbury, their former chair (and great granddaughter of Barrow Cadbury) who sadly died in June 2017 at the age of 52. Helen was a staunch champion of women prisoners, and of the arts and prison reform, as well as a poet and author, who would have relished the idea of the works of art of women prisoners being exhibited in the corridors of power.

‘HMPPS would be very happy, indeed it would be a privilege to participate in the scheme.’ Michael Spurr, CEO, HM Prison and Probation Service

‘I am really pleased that we are able to launch this unique art trail, 100 years after the first women were able to vote. Many of those who fought for women’s suffrage themselves experienced prison, and so it’s appropriate that the art trail showcases the achievements of women now in prison’. Dame Anne Owers, Chair of the Koestler Trust.

As one of the artists from HM Prison Low Newton, selected to take part in the Art Trail says, ’I love to be creative as it sets my mind, heard and soul free even though my physical body is imprisoned.’

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