16 February 2023
We asked people in prison to submit a creative piece of work that celebrates their learning successes. In response, we received over 120 entries including drawings, poems, stories and more.
These entries were carefully considered by our judging panel, made up of three people previously funded to study by PET. The winning entries were unique in their own way, but they all shared one common message – education can transform the lives of people in prison.
Lucy (HMP Send) – whose cross-stitch design won first prize (£30) in the competition – told us why she chose to shine a light on this particular motto:
We have so much taken away from us, this is something not always deserved. But, no one can ever take away our education and what we have learned.
One of the judges appreciated that though the artwork looks simple, it shows real technical difficulty:
The cross stitch and different font styles reflect protest, art and hope for what education gives so many inside.
Another judge said, “As a black man this was the slogan I grew up with, so it really resonated with me.”
Coming in at second place (£20) was David (HMP Kirkham) and his canvas art, illustrating the role education plays in helping someone achieve their potential.
One judge commented:
Visual, imaginative and impactful. The use of locks and chains visually gives the viewers the key to prison life and the struggles of reaching your potential. I particularly love the image of education as a large key.
In joint third place (£10) was Johansén (HMP The Verne) with his entry, The Smart Criminal. Johansén’s poem reveals how he has turned to education for a better future:
Don’t let your prison time fall by the wayside,
You can still make a difference and fill hearts with pride
One judge said:
You have a way of bringing a story to life. Your use of wordplay, rhythm and style cannot be done justice by mere comments from me. Keep learning, keep inspiring, and keep changing the world. You are going to go far. Keep speaking your truth.
Isla Ray (HMP Greenock) also won third place (£10). The judges felt this entry was technically superb. They particularly liked the perspective of the piece and how the artwork can be viewed from different angles, reflective of the change of perspective you get on life from education. They felt it brought to life how studying can reconnect someone to their family, and how in prison you can create an educational haven.
We also asked our supporters to have their say. During our recent Brighter Futures event, we displayed the creative entries and supporters voted for their favourite piece.
Having received the highest number of votes, an impressive sketch by Gaz (HMP Leeds) won the Supporters Choice Award. One judge said:
This original art highlights education as a diving board for success and gives the viewers a real sense of how high you can aim if you only believe.
A further ten entries were Highly Commended by the judges, with each entrant receiving a certificate.
© Prisoners' Education Trust 2023