Koestler Voices In Conversation with Koestler Arts and University of Southampton

Standing On The Edge

Join Koestler Arts and researchers from the University of Southampton as they discuss the new anthology, ‘Koestler Voices: New Poetry from Prisons Vol. 4’.




In partnership with Koestler Arts, the John Hansard Gallery is currently exhibiting 80 artworks, including poems, from the criminal justice system from the South West and Hampshire regions. The exhibition, Standing on the Edge, was co-curated by learners from HM Prison Isle of Wight.

The event will begin with a presentation about the work of Koestler Arts, as well as opening words from Professor David Gurnham, Criminal Law & International Legal Studies at University of Southampton. This will be followed by a poetry reading from PHD student David Shipley, who has previously received two awards from the Koestler prize.

Dr Haris Psarras and Professor Steph Jones from University of Southampton, along with editors of the Koestler anthology, will also join David Gurnham and David Shipley for a conversation and Q&A.

John Hansard Gallery will be open from 3pm for people to view Standing on the Edge ahead of the event.


Koestler Arts is the UK’s best known prison arts charity and have been championing and exhibiting artworks from the criminal justice system for over 60 years. They aim to inspire people with experience of the criminal justice system to take part in the arts, (including fine art, design, music, poetry, film and performance), through their annual Koestler Awards programme, feedback on the work, exhibitions, sales, and mentoring.

David Gurnham is a Professor in the Law School of the University of Southampton. He researches and teaches on the intersections of crime, law, and the arts. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Law and Humanities (Routledge), and co-hosts the annual Law and Humanities summer Roundtable. He is currently collaborating on projects involving an edited collection on new research on narrative in law, and a series of workshops on creative arts responses by marginalised people to legal problems.


Esther Sorooshian is a freelance editor and researcher interested in attending to obscured histories and marginalised voices. Alongside working for Koestler Arts, Esther is a prison facilitator for the Shannon Trust, a charity helping people in prison to improve their reading and writing skills. In 2021, she co-founded Token Books, an archive and shop for rare and out-of-print books; in this capacity, she has curated libraries at the London Design week, Emalin gallery, and 180 The Strand.

Beth Aydon has volunteered for several arts organisations and criminal justice charities and in 2018 began a career working at the intersection of arts and criminal justice with Koestler Arts. Her MA thesis, “Pints & Punishment: On the future of Maze/Long Kesh in a time ‘Dark Tourism’”, explores the commodification of memory on former prison sites across the island of Ireland. Beth’s research interests include the arts and criminal justice, post-conflict societies, and Anglo-Irish culture and politics.

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