Inside the UK’s biggest prison art collection

Ambling down a leafy residential street away from East Acton tube station, the gates of HMP Wormwood Scrubs are an unexpected sight. “The Scrubs” is best known to the general public for its iconic opening hatch (made famous by the opening credits to TV’s Porridge) and infamous for housing the likes of Pete Doherty and Mark Morrison, during their time spent at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

But what you might not realise, is that in a little building a few metres from the prison gates, contains the storage point for thousands of artworks sent in every year by people resident in prisons, detention centres, secure childrens’ homes or psychiatric institutions across the UK.

The Koestler Trust is a 52-year-old prison art charity named after the twentieth-century journalist and campaigner Arthur Koestler, who wanted to recognise creative works from people in physical confinement across the UK. (He also was imprisoned during the Spanish Civil War, wrote…

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