Students at North West Regional College’s (NWRC) Magilligan campus have achieved 47 awards in Creative Writing, Art, Sculpture, Barbering, and Woodcraft, at the 2020 Koestler Awards.
The Koestler Awards, provide feedback and encouragement to people in custody and the community, in the field of visual art, design, writing, and music.
This year, students at Magilligan received 25 awards in Creative Writing, using the word ‘Window’ as a theme. One of these poems, ‘Trespassers’, from the anthology ‘Going Equipped with a Pen’, will be displayed alongside 60 other artworks at an exhibition at the Southbank Centre in London, which will be filmed for the Koestler website.
Other standout achievements include a Platinum Award for Barbering and a Gold Award for Painting.
Creative Writing Tutor at Magilligan, Pamela Brown, said: “When the first Koestler Arts Awards took place in 1962 there were around 200 entries, in 2020 there were over 6,500 from UK prisons. The awards provide feedback to prisoners engaged in visual arts, design, woodcraft, hairdressing, ceramics, sculpture, writing, and music. Koestler Arts Awards are the highlight of our year. They inspire us to be more creative and give us a platform to showcase our work.”
Prison Arts Foundation (PAF) Executive Director Fred Caulfield, who support the creative writing group at Magilligan, said the awards have been another successful collaboration with NWRC.
He added: “This has been another fantastic year of awards, and a testimony to the hard work and devotion to the writers’ group at Magilligan.”
Woodwork instructor Shaun Duffy said: “The results are reflective of the good work and teaching that goes on at Magilligan.”
Head of Education at Magilligan, Dr. Damian O’Kane said: “We are delighted that our students have performed exceptionally well in this national competition. It serves to illustrate the potential that exists within the student body in Magilligan and the pivotal role that our Tutors play in nurturing that talent.”
Magilligan Prison Governor Richard Taylor said: “At a time when there are many pressures on prison resources, creative arts can have a transformative impact and can change lives for prisoners, for families, and for people in the community. There is immense creativity among the prison population in Magilligan and this has once again been reflected in the number of Koestler Awards presented. The arts have a huge role to play in terms of rehabilitation. Initiatives like this are helping us to support the men in our care, challenging them to change, and helping to build a safer community. Putting arts at the centre of what we do makes a huge difference.”