KOESTLER LECTURE: Art not Crime

As Head of London College of Fashion and Pro Vice-Chancellor of University of the Arts London, I am delighted to welcome everyone to the college this evening as we are so pleased to be hosting this lecture, which serves as Tim Robertson’s swan song after 9 years at the Koestler Trust.

In my mind, the burgeoning partnership between UAL and the Koestler Trust is a reflection of two really positive developments: Firstly, the way in which UAL as an institution is beginning to engage with social issues like criminal justice; And secondly, the fact that the Koestler Trust have managed to get ‘prison art’ taken seriously as an artform by one of the world’s leading arts universities.

Koestler Mentee

Education is a powerful transformative force that all are entitled to. Art and other creative disciplines present us with ways of expressing what at times can be hard to articulate. Given that we are here this evening for an insight into the role that art can play in transforming lives, it feels very appropriate that the University of the Arts London is hosting the event.

The Fashion Education in Prison projects are hugely important to LCF. Not only because of the difference we hope to make to the offenders we work with, but also due to the impact it has had on our staff and students who have been involved in the projects.

Since we ran our first pilot project at HMP Send in 2009, LCF’s work with prisons has gone from strength to strength. Our Fashion Education in Prison project, which we launched in 2010, has included our magazine project at HMP Send, a bespoke tailoring project with male offenders at HMP Brixton and in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice, the launch of a training and manufacturing unit in HMP Holloway in 2014.

As a university, we are proud to be developing stronger links with the Koestler Trust. These include:Koestler mentoring has supported several ex-offenders in becoming UAL students (including one First in Fine Art in 2013); LCF & Koestler both provide skills development for women at Holloway – LCF through its workshop, Koestler through work experience placements for women on day licence; Grayson Perry, UAL’s new Chancellor, is an active Koestler supporter, serving as a Koestler Awards judge each year and having curated an exhibition; Fiona Curran, Koestler Director of Arts, is joining our ‘Made for Change’ Advisory Board linked to our training and manufacturing unit in HMP Holloway.

There is a famous quote by Dostoyevsky –
“The degree of civilisation in a society can be judged by entering its prisons”

Tim has done so much to further this in his work and I am sure we will all be inspired tonight to do more to make this happen.

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