Criminologist Charlotte Bilsby worked with notable prison art charity Koestler Trust to organise an exhibition at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and The Gallery at the Gateshead Central Library from Nov. 19 to Dec. 1, 2013. While Koestler Trust is a veteran exhibitor of prison art, this was the 50-year-old organisation’s first show ever in the North East.
From the 300-odd submissions, 100 works of art were selected for the exhibition. Artists from prisons and other secure facilities, e.g., children’s homes, immigrant detention centres and hospitals, displayed work in a wide variety of media. Literary pieces were also selected and shown alongside two-dimensional artwork, including examples of collage, graphite drawing, watercolor painting, printmaking, oil and acrylic painting and several multi-media works.
While the artists, range of works, and even exhibition dates overlapped somewhat with “Release” in Glasgow, “Reflections” was part of a special research project by Northumbria University Lecturer Dr. Charlotte Bilsby. Her idea was to put at-risk local youth from the Behaviour Support Service in charge of curating the exhibition. In doing so, she could assess how these young people responded to the responsibility and how the curatorial process impacted their own attitudes and perspectives. Ultimately, should could learn how curating this exhibit might incite “Reflection” on the part of the young curators themselves and not just the artists and audience.