Koestler Wrap Up – Final Words

Robert: I like looking at all the different paintings in the spirit level and working with the volunteer coordinators.

Tara: Ashleigh: The first time i discovered Koestler was at college. My first impression was shock and amazement. I was in shock about how beautiful these pieces were. It is a fantastic way to keep yourself grounded so you don’t lose yourself in prison. I never knew in future years i would be here volunteering for this exhibition. My favourite pieces are the lion king with the colourful pieces on it, i was stunned by all the colours that bought the lions face to life and my second favorite was the piece was the lion eater with the dragon because when you get up close i’m amazed by all the equipment and tools available in prison that can make amazing artwork. We’re all just people no matter what, we all need to express yourself properly

Yunzi: I really enjoyed the tours, they did an amazing job. And every tour is special and unique. My favourite piece is property of her majesty the queen/comfort blanket. It really expressed how difficult prisoner life is.

Julie: I really loved this exhibition, i found it to be an eye opener to the creativeness of people who have been incarcerated, i found it really heartwarming be able to share the exhibition to other people and share the inspiration of how creative someone can be on the inside. My favourite pieces are the comfort blanket and the WTF. I enjoy talking to people about the grandfather clock because of how fantastic the piece is. I also love the piece with the felt sweets.

Jane: I have enjoyed really learning about Koestler i hadn’t heard about the trust at all before, and it has been eye opening for me to learn about it. It has been inspiring for me to come in each week the two tours i went on were really interesting, and delivered well and it was fantastic each time even if it was their first tour. I really love the red fish piece I was really sad it wasn’t for sale, i wanted to buy it, i found its relation to freedom beautiful.

Toyin: I don’t know which i like best, I like all of it. I liked coming each week.

Giulia: It was amazing. I had to write an essay about a successful art management piece, and Koestler became what I wanted to write about. I struggled to find a bad thing about the exhibition. My favourite piece was self portrait, i think it is very emblematic, because it represents how important the feedback is from the visitors.

Lawrence: I love the clock as it signifies the time they are in prison and how much time and it makes me realise we do not appreciate how much time we have and it makes me realise how much time you have inside to think and it makes you appreciate life a lot more.

Tara: This exhibition was a new experience for me, I have never been to anything like this before and it was interesting to see people makes things out of nothing with such limited materials. I also found them to be very intelligent people, and I don’t have a favourite, I like all of them!

Bridget (Volunteer coordinator): It has been a real pleasure to work with the volunteers and do my job to the best of my ability and you have all  been a pleasure to be around. It means so much to us that you want to donate our time to such a worthwhile cause.

Lucy (Volunteer coordinator): I have loved getting to know the Koestler trust exceptionally well during this opportunity. I have loved the intimate nature of getting to know the team better and all the conversations we have had about why this is such an important exhibition. I look forward to use doing it all again next year.

Koestler exhibition volunteer review: Swans

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Swans, Stockton Hall Hospital, Keith Bromley Platinum Award for Photography, digital print on paper.

We Are All Human is an exhibition showcasing artwork produced in the UK’s prisons, secure hospitals and immigration removal centres, and by ex-offenders in the community.

I was drawn to this piece because of its witty and simple subject matter. The photograph depicts two cloves of garlic facing each other, and due to the shape of their stalk and dry skin, they appear to take the form of two swans in conversation. This speaks volumes of the resourcefulness of the offenders, secure patients and detainees involved in the Koestler exhibition. Many of them had very limited access to art materials, causing some pieces to be made of bread, matchsticks, toilet paper and soap. But Swans also reflects the emotional conditions that many faced during their incarceration; hoping for meaningful interaction with another. This photograph is joyful, heart-warming and simply made me smile. (Ruth)

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Koestler exhibition volunteer review: Unlocked

We Are All Human is an exhibition showcasing artwork produced in the UK’s prisons, secure hospitals and immigration removal centres, and by ex-offenders in the community.

The display includes painting, music, writing and ceramics as well as traditional prison crafts such as matchstick modelling. The 2016 annual UK Koestler exhibition has been curated by writer and dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah who has selected from over 6,000 artworks submitted to the 2016 Koestler Awards.

 

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There was a matchstick model called unlocked made by Christopher. A bet was made by a prison officer and Christopher, The prison officer said to Christopher that he cannot build a functional lock with working mechanism using just matchsticks. Christopher prove the officer wrong by building a functional lock made with matchsticks, He used a spring from a pen and build a working lock, The lock he built won a Bronze Award.

(Robert)

 

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I like The Lion King because its funny, because I need to know about the Lion king, because I enjoyed it very much.

(Toyin)

 

fire-eater

I am really fascinated by the Fire-Eater, because the dark browns, whites and reds stood out strongly on the wooden base.

(Ash)

Koestler exhibition volunteer review: Pillow of Dreams

We Are All Human is an exhibition showcasing artwork produced in the UK’s prisons, secure hospitals and immigration removal centres, and by ex-offenders in the community.

The display includes painting, music, writing and ceramics as well as traditional prison crafts such as matchstick modelling. The 2016 annual UK Koestler exhibition has been curated by writer and dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah who has selected from over 6,000 artworks submitted to the 2016 Koestler Awards.

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The majority of the artworks in this showcase are very good and remarkable. I am really impressed by the creativity and the wide range of ideas that prisoners express through art.

If I could take one of all these pieces of art with me at home that would be the “Pillow of dreams”. Initially, I would like to mention that it is a very good combination of arts including poetry, sculpture and painting. Furthermore, the imagination of the artist is being expressed by representing a cell in prison which is full of colours, includes animals and flowers and it is fully decorated like a common room. So, it is exactly the opposite of what most prison cells look like (black & white including only very few furniture. In addition, this piece of art does not simply represent a prison’s room decorated with common house furniture. It is a room which also includes nature (e.g. flowers on the floor, bird on the bedroom etc.).

To conclude, I believe that this composition of various arts combined with this mixture of a cell, common house furniture and nature can make anybody who takes a look at it the “Pillow of dreams” feel free, healthy, happy and full of imagination.

Athanasios Chalmoukis

Koestler exhibition volunteer review: W.T.F.

 

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In the painting W.T.F., a guy is sitting in the corner of the room crying and grabbing his head, with a letter crumpled up and an envelope ripped in a rush on the floor. A bad news, or maybe even a tragedy has happened to his family. But he is inside, has no ability to control and help the things happened and people he loved on the outside world, but to accept them frustratingly. During the tour, the tour guide told us a story: once he was conducting a tour, a visitor recognized the space in this painting and said he was in the same prison before. The details of the prison space are depicted very precisely, which evoked this visitor’s memory. Maybe he experienced the same feeling as the artist, hopeless, desperate, lonely… (Yunzi, Giulia, Robert)

 

We Are All Human is an exhibition showcasing artwork produced in the UK’s prisons, secure hospitals and immigration removal centres, and by ex-offenders in the community.

The display includes painting, music, writing and ceramics as well as traditional prison crafts such as matchstick modelling. The 2016 annual UK Koestler exhibition has been curated by writer and dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah who has selected from over 6,000 artworks submitted to the 2016 Koestler Awards.

Koestler Volunteers discuss We Are All Human

We Are All Human is an exhibition showcasing artwork produced in the UK’s prisons, secure hospitals and immigration removal centres, and by ex-offenders in the community.

The display includes painting, music, writing and ceramics as well as traditional prison crafts such as matchstick modelling. The 2016 annual UK Koestler exhibition has been curated by writer and dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah who has selected from over 6,000 artworks submitted to the 2016 Koestler Awards.

 

“My favourite artwork is the colourful ‘Lion King’, because the use of all the known colours really brought the lion’s face to life. (Ash)

This morning during the guided tour one artwork in particular captured our feelings. Property of Helion-king-paul-hmp-prison-magilligan-aridne-birberg-highly-commended-awardr Majesty Queen made by Peter which tells a story which happens to every prisoner. When they first come to prison, they will be given a plastic bag where they put their belongings. That same plastic bag will be returned to the prisoner the day they become free again. However, in the painting the plastic bag covering the face becomes a motif, the freedom they have lost during their prison years will never come back. Although the objects in the bag remain the same, this is not the same for the person who will receive them.  (Yunzi and Giulia)

I saw a sculpture made entirely out of soap. The sculpture was incredibly detailed and took a long period to make. The soap was used to make a replica of inmates or prisoner fighting each other. It was quite a large sculpture. (Robert)dantes-fireplace-tom-hmp-prison-peterborough-inspiration-platinum-award-for-sculpture

I’d like to talk about a couple of pieces.  The first is the model of a clock tower made entirely of matchsticks.  It took the artist 18 months to complete and you can understand why when you see it.  It is a magnificent piece in its scale, vision and in the level of detail integrated into the work. Not all works are for sale and when you understand the story behind this piece you can understand why it might be too precious and symbolic to let go.  I will briefly mention the two works by Peter one of which is Property of her Majesty (also mentioned by my volunteer colleagues) and WTF. They are assured and technically brilliant works which convey a complex set of emotions in a superficially simple style.  I really wish I’d had a chance to buy them and I hope they have gone to a good home.  The last piece is a poem called Never Again.  I missed this piece and was alerted to it by two women who were on the same tour with me.  They came up to me at the end of the tour and one of them had tears in her eyes.  When I read it I understood why.  The poem speaks about the refugee crisis and the perilous journeys of people trying to escape from harm.  It is in the collection of poems handbook on the yellow plinth. Do try and make sure you read it. (Dinea)”

property-of-her-majesty-the-queen-peter-hmp-prison-dovegate-the-partick-holmes-platinum-award

PLAYING THE POWER GAME – LILIANE LIJN

 

2016.06.25_Blue Room_Power of Power - Liliane Lijn

In 1974 I created a piece of performance art which looked at the politics of identity and power.

‘I called the event Power Game. I intended it to be a farce depicting the absurdity of power. There was no script, no actors, no rehearsals. The farce occurred through people’s normal behaviour and their reactions to the situation in which I placed them. The Print Room of the Royal College was the gambling room. I borrowed a set from the ENO and invited 15 people, choosing them especially for their differences in occupation and income. I asked them to come formally dressed or in imaginative alternative. With the invitation, I enclosed the rules of the game. They were loosely based on the rules of Chemin de Fer.

‘Liliane Lijn 1974

I use the concept of ‘the casino’ as a metaphor for a capitalist democracy, a society in which everyone supposedly has an equal chance to succeed. The idea to base the game on Chemin de Fer (the French casino game preferred by James Bond) looks back to when, at the age of 14, my father, an inveterate gambler, would beg me to accompany him to the casino to bring him luck.

Principally concerned with the power of words and how people interpret meaning, depending on their interests and preconceptions, Power Game investigates the politics of identity and power. Essentially a piece of unrehearsed theatre, Power Game is also a game in which fifteen players sitting around a table pit their wits against each other defining power. Is one word more powerful than another? Can words be powerful? Can we subjugate with language, seduce, conquer, vanquish with sound, with a vibration of our tongue?

For that very first staging of Power Game in 1974, I asked the invited players to be prepared to gamble on the meaning of words. Derek Jarman, who was then just beginning to make his super 8 films, had worked all weekend to come with enough cash to play. He came dressed in a white tuxedo. Michael Kustow, then director of the ICA, came as a four-star general and sat with Patrick Seale, the political commentator and art dealer, at one end of the table. They seemed to dominate the game from the very beginning of the evening.

Asking people to gamble with real stakes quickly converted what might superficially appear to be only a game into a very real situation. Although played with actual stakes, words are used instead of numbers and the winning word is chosen by a majority vote of the players seated at the table, who are not at that time betting. Anyone who has entered the casino can place a bet on a word but the right to vote is given only to the players invited to sit at the gaming table. To enter the casino, it is necessary to exchange money for gambling tokens. On exiting, money is returned in exchange for tokens. Just as in real life, those who prefer not to participate, can watch the proceedings in the adjoining café bar. Drinks are served at the table by cross-dressed waiters, since those who serve the powerful are not always who they seem.

Power Game uses words divorced from the syntax of a sentence or phrase. Individual words seem to resonate in a similar way to images. I am not talking about words bringing images into the mind but about a more abstract resonance by which a word can become an image. TABLE is no longer related to the structure that stands in a room and supports our everyday. The word suddenly freezes, its remembered meaning dissolves and it is an image. Words do this by freeing themselves from their syntactical matrix, their embedded meanings and the habitual context in which they are used. At this point, they can be transformed. Cutting up and mixing unconnected texts was a way of doing this and visual or Concrete Poetry was another. Syntax is all about the position of words and their relation to each other. However, by considering the position and relation of words on a page divorced from their syntactical meaning, unexpected meaning can be revealed.

Language empowers. How much blood has been spilled over Freedom of Speech? There are many ways to disempower and to take away the ability or the freedom to speak out is always the first to be used in a dictatorship. When people are able to communicate, energy flows between them. One might even say that there is an equality of power enabled by discourse. Inequality arises when one person speaks and all others merely listen. In a democracy, there is not only the freedom to speak out but also the freedom to write, to meet to discuss and to disagree. The freedom of dissent. These freedoms are powerful, when organized into voting systems, unions, into associations in which many disparate voices unite into one coherent declaration.

Synonyms for power are control, dominance, command, rule, authority, influence, wealth but also strength, force and energy. We have electrical power and spiritual power, the power for good as well as for evil.

Power Game asks an invited group of people, who may have what in our society is considered to be attributes of power, such as intelligence, talent, fame, wealth and notoriety, to place bets on their own choice of a powerful word in a restricted sampling of four words dealt to them as word cards. They then have to defend that choice, declaring why their chosen word is powerful. In so doing, they explore and communicate their definition of power.

It is only through understanding the multiple meanings of power that we, as individuals, can regulate it, both in the natural world and in our own society.

Liliane Lijn is an internationally renowned artist whose Power Game will be  performed at Southbank Centre on Saturday 25 June as part of Power of Power festival. For more information and to reserve a ticket for this free event, please visit:   http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/liliane-ljin- power-game-98125