Re:Form according to Frank

Incarceration uncovered: a snapshot tour of the Re:Form exhibition


Frank next to his favourite painting

After spending 30 years in and out of prison, Frank now wants to stay on “the right side of the fence”. He has a degree in criminology through the Prisoner’s Education Trust and is running tours of the Koestler Trust’s Re:Form exhibition.

Here are just  a few of Frank’s favourite pieces.


The Warrior


The Warrior (exhibition centre piece)

This prison received a recycling contract for stripping down cars. This sculpture, the centre piece of the ex
hibition, was made from carefully collected and constructed scraps.


“Cast away, reformed objects, turned into something quite pleasing, for me it shows the entire process of rehabilitation. Prisoners like these scraps can be reformed too.” (Frank)






Who really pulls the strings?


Who really pulls the strings? (Gold award for drawing)

This picture tells it’s own story, look closely and you will see the incredible attention to detail, from the food banks accepting donations and job centres advertising zero hours contracts, to judges with swishing tails and feline features, the fat cats running the courts of justice.

“If I think about prison I think about people angry and upset by partners, the criminal justice system and police. This picture encapsulates that and is a reflection of the society we live in.

You don’t have to be a prisoner to understand it. It is a comment on the way the country is being run.

But mostly, for me, it represents the power of art. The artist is angry and frustrated, the scales of justice are unbalanced, but instead of violence he channels his anger into creativity. That is what the whole exhibition is about.” (Frank)



Northgate Hospital


Northgate hospital (G. & J. First time entrant award)

“People from secure units are just people, but there is something different in this art. What I am struck by is the colour. I imagine these units are dark places but these pieces are so full of colour. These people must have the colour in them” (Frank)



Don’t be quiet


Don’t be quiet (Felix Kelly award for mixed media)

“One of the most persistent staff refrains when you are in prison is “be quiet”. I like this piece, it’s making a comment and says ‘Belt up!”” (Frank)



Lisa your bairn’s getting taken away from you


Lisa your bairn’s getting taken away from you (Maggi Hambling Highly Commended award for painting)

A mother lies surrounded by needles, her baby neglected whilst the authorities peer in the window.

“This is my favourite. It is poignant for me because I can relate to addiction and the power it takes away from your life. How brave for someone who has gone through all this to relive it all in this paintaing. For the art teacher to be able to create such an environment is incredible. For so many reasons this is a really powerful piece for me.”  (Frank)



Love and Life


Love and Life (Sir Hugh Gold award for portraits)

This piece was completed at HM Grendon therapeutic prison. A place aimed to rehabilitate those who are nearing the end of long sentences. In this piece we see a depiction of family.


“It represents what he never had. He has had to draw deep down representing 14 years if longing. That’s a long time.”  (Frank)








Matchstick modelling


Matchwork woodwork modelling

Matchstick modelling is a sort of cottage industry inside prison, models made to pass the time, traded for presents, become a sort of cigarette currency.

These intricate works are made from thousands of carefully constructed sticks held together by glue.

“Sometimes in prison you only have one hour outside a day, the matchsticks guys are so dedicated that they will stay in and keep working”.  (Frank)



White Windsors


Soaps (Inspiration Bronze Award for sculpture)

Prisoners arrive to receive a ‘welcome pack’ consisting of a pillowcase, two sheets, a razor, and two bars of White Windsor soap.


“It has a medicated smell, no one uses it. They just throw it away. Here the things that have been cast away have been collected and reclaimed.

They have turned something rubbish into something amazing. I never thought that anything positive could come from White Windsor…!”  (Frank)



Journey at a snail’s pace


Journey at a snail’s pace (David Astor Platinum Award for theme)

The theme this year was journey, five artists got together to represent the journey they took through prison.

“The body represents the pace of life in prison, nothing moves fast. The shell represents the institution and the middle represents your place inside. Life at a snail’s pace.”  (Frank)



Prisoner 101115


Prisoner 101115

At the end of the exhibition, round the corner is a special section for under 25s. This drawing shows a young boy incarcerated, a bar code where his face should be, chains on his wrist and surveillance cameras surrounding him.

“In this country we lock up children from 10 years of age, we lock up more children than any other European country. This is a great piece; it is a sad reflection of our society. It says; what are we doing to young people? Heaven forbid we come back here in 10 years time and this boy has an entry in the main exhibition.”  (Frank)





The exhibition is open until the 29 November at Southbank Centre on the Spirit Level of the Royal Festival Hall. Tours run Monday to Thursday 1.30pm and 6pm, and Friday to Sunday 1.30pm, 4pm and 6pm.

For more information click here.

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