No Lockdown in the Imagination

An outdoor installation taking place across the windows of London’s Southbank Centre, runs from November 12 to December 13.

No Lockdown in the Imagination will present audio, visual and written works selected from the 2020 Koestler Awards, which recognises art from people across the UK’s criminal justice system.

The installation has been described as a testament to the power of the arts against adversity.

During the pandemic, many prisoners have been under 23-hour lockdown.

Educational activities, family visits, and release on temporary license – to start to rebuild life in the outside world – were all put on hold to keep people safe.

For prisoners, creativity has been their only escape and saviour.

Using limited materials, people across the criminal justice system have kept themselves going with their imagination.

On the prison lockdown, a 2020 Koestler Awards entrant said: “Prison is hard, but with Covid-19, you couldn’t imagine in your wildest dreams what it is like for us. Twenty three hours a day locked in our little box since March.

“Never take your freedom for granted.”

The work is reproduced on window vinyls, with a selection also displayed behind the glass at the Southbank Centre’s Riverside Terrace.

There is an unavoidable irony in the fact that the work, which was created inside, will only be viewable from the outside.

Sally Taylor, chief executive at Koestler Arts, said: “We have all experienced lockdown this year but the term originates in prisons which have undergone their own very draconian form of lockdown.

“No Lockdown in the Imagination reflects the art of experts in lockdown received for our awards this year.” Prisoners, secure patients, people on probation and youth offending teams submitted 6,500 entries to the competition.


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