Curated by Firstsite’s Young Art Kommunity (YAK), the exhibition is drawn from works submitted to the 2017 Koestler Awards – an annual awards programme spanning 52 artforms.
The Koestler Trust was set up in 1962 to help offenders, secure patients and detainees lead more positive lives by motivating them to participate and achieve in the arts. Each year, the awards attract thousands of entries from across the UK’s criminal justice and secure sectors. Last year’s judges included the Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux, celebrity hairstylist Louise Galvin and musicians Ghetts and Hot Chip.
Chip Night is comprised of writing, music, and works of visual arts across the disciplines of painting, needlecraft, sculpture, woodcraft, mixed media, drawing, textiles, and digital art. The show’s title derives from an essay about chips and the important role that they play in the author’s life in prison. For YAK, the essay acts as a vehicle to narrate personal stories and explore the emotions and nostalgia that food can invoke.
Throughout the exhibition-making process, members of YAK have undertaken curatorial development sessions with the Koestler Trust and Firstsite staff. YAK has curated the works in small groups or pairings, exploring how themes might work across the various mediums. In Firstsite’s year of identity, Chip Night looks at how one’s sense of selfhood and Britishness can be impacted by social circumstances.
The exhibition includes personal responses by YAK. These will be further developed in two public tours that will take place during the exhibition, led by members of the group in collaboration with The Koestler Trust.