The third Jameel Prize attracted almost 270 nominations from countries as diverse as Algeria, Brazil, Kosovo, Norway and Russia. A panel of judges, chaired by V&A Director, Martin Roth, had the difficult task of narrowing down the entrants to a shortlist of 10 artists and designers. Those selected will display their art at the Museum from 11 December until 21 April and the overall winner is set to be announced today (10 December). The prize is an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition. Aiming to explore the links between Islamic traditions of art, craft and design and contemporary work, the prize adds to the wider debate about Islamic culture and its role today.
The shortlist may be small but the pieces presented are extremely varied, incorporating Arabic typography and calligraphy, fashion inspired by the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, social design, video installation and precise miniature drawings. These works fit in perfectly at the V&A as it houses one of the world’s great collections of Islamic art from the Middle East in the Museum’s Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art. The new art in the Jameel Prize complements the older works currently held in the institution.
During the 1850s the V&A began to collect art from the Islamic world. The Museum’s desire was to reform design, and it was thought that Islamic ideas about structuring patterns and matching decoration to shape and function could improve British design. The Jameel Prize demonstrates that the link between Islamic art of the past and contemporary practice is stronger than ever.
The primary role of the Jameel Prize is to give work of this kind a higher profile. It also helps to promote art and design inspired by Islamic traditions to potential patrons, while illustrating how tradition can still have an impact on contemporary art.
Jameel Prize 3, 11 December – 21 April, V&A, South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL.
1. Modern Times: A History of the Machine (Detail, 2010–12, (Video, Mounir Fatmi, 1 MB, Courtesy of the artist and Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Photo: Mounir Fatmi.