Winner of 2012 Koestler Trust Highly Commended Award –

Matchstick and Mixed Media Model Category


Babar AHMAD A9385AG, HMP Long Lartin




A matchstick model of a pair of hands grasping cell bars from inside a dark prison cell with the words, “I Will Always Live Free” written at the bottom. The model is made out of approximately 5000 matches and took 3 months to build. Its dimensions are A4 size (300mm x 210mm) with a thickness of approximately 20mm.

How The Model Was Built


The base was built out of 2000 matches, comprising three criss-cross layers for strength.


The main section of bars and hands was designed on computer and then traced onto plastic so that the matches could be built onto it. Six layers were built of this main section out of 3000 matches and then sanded down extensively using sandpaper wrapped around various objects to get the circular effects. Once the main section was complete it was glued onto the base layer.


Each finger on the hand was built separately and then sanded down before being glued onto the hands.


The space inside the cell was stained dark mahogany to give an impression of darkness. The bars and walls were stained wood colour and the hands were left unstained to represent skin colour. After staining, the whole model was coated with five layers of clear water-based varnish and fine-sanded with 400 grade sandpaper for the smooth finish.


Finally, the phrase, “I Will Always Live Free” was written in black permanent marker pen under the hands.



Why Did I Choose the Phrase “I Will Always Live Free”?


This phrase was chosen to give the impression that although captivity may imprison my body, my soul will remain free. Though captivity may physically restrict me, mentally and spiritually I will always live free and no-one can take that away from me.



Babar Ahmad A9385AG

Detainee Unit

HMP Long Lartin



WR11 8TZ


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