CURATING the 2017 exhibition for the Koestler trust is something I wanted to do as soon as they approached me.

I am influenced by art, I make it, I believe in the ability of creativity to serve a practical function on many levels. A few years ago I sculpted a huge steel Scold’s bridle, and engraved it with words sent to me by women in the UK and US, including death row. One submission I remembered when I thought of doing the Koestler exhibition, had just read — the system is not built on rehabilitation, it is just built for warehousing.

I grew up in the local authority care system for sixteen years, followed by several years in homeless accommodation. I understand the dehumanising process of institutions. I am aware that there is a narrative perceived by society that often discounts any idea of the individual at all.

If art is to be used to offer rehabilitation within the prison system or young offenders, then each artwork should be able to stand alone presenting its own particular unique narrative. It is not in the spirit of art or rehabilitation to rejudge those who are trying to create connection and human expression via art. The submissions that came from all over Scotland showed an astounding potential, talent and depth of emotional life. Many pieces nod toward relationships with people at home. A wolf with lots of pups painted inside her transparent stomach. A bride looking up at someone. Paper swans. Wooden horses. An intricate clock. Songs. Textiles. Spoken word pieces, animation, poetry, prose, radio excerpts, even a disc of beautifully coloured nails that I wanted to frame and exhibit too.

It was not an easy task to whittle them down to one exhibition.

After I had spent a week at the Koestler Trust headquarters, in Wormwood Scrubs, London the huge room with artwork was finally separated out into different themes and I started putting up mock walls to see how they would look together.

I believe I selected more artworks than any other curator. The Koestler trust were hoping I might select around 110 pieces, in the end I stood by 180 that I felt all really had to be a part of the exhibition.

In each piece there is a Narrative. What we see on first look and then what we feel in reaction, perhaps on second look we have to question what we initially thought. Art provokes. It creates connections. It challenges our ideas. This exhibition has pieces of art that could have been exhibited anywhere. It was a great honour to put together a show that has so much talent and humanity evident in every piece.

Poetry, prose and spoken word were all strongly represented this year. I have created a whole wall of poems, flash fiction, or short stories. Other pieces have been bound and sit next to listening booths where visitors can listen to an astounding array of music, radio, and performance pieces.

In the main gallery I have two audio installations that run every half an hour. They alter the ambience within that space and I like the repetition of it as well.

I wanted to put in cushions, tables, create an exhibition where people can spend time, sit down, have a picnic with their kids, where the community can come and be a part of this Narrative.

The relations between prisoners families and local community can be really difficult. It is imperative that we offer not only rehabilitation within the prison, young offenders and psychiatric facilities but that we create stronger links between those inside and the many people who care for them, or work with them, who may be trying to challenge their own Narrative at home.

It is a great exhibition, a Narrative we can all be a part of, this is what art does. May rehabilitation in all of these systems be fostered, nurtured and pushed further on.