Ece Ege and Ayse Ege of Dice Kayek.
LONDON - The lead up to the Christmas period always comes with a packed calendar of events but the announcement of the Jameel Prize at the V & A Museum last week was clearly on everyone’s priority list. With slight changes and improvements in every edition, this prestigious prize has gone from strength to strength and is now in its third presentation. This time ten artists and designers from diverse backgrounds were shortlisted: Faig Ahmed, Nasser Al Salem, Nada Debs, Mounir Fatmi, Rahul Jain, Dice Kayek, Waqas Khan, Laurent Mareschal, Florie Salnot and Pascal Zoghbi. Awarded every other year, the Prize was founded in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI), and is a £25,000 international prize for contemporary artists and designers inspired by Islamic traditions of art, craft and design.
Martin Roth, Ayse Ege, Ece Ege and Fady Jameel. Courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
A magnificent gallery space showcases the exhibition of the shortlisted works, which features over 20 pieces reflecting a wide scope of creativity. These range from Arabic typography and calligraphy to Ottoman-inspired fashion harking back to the mosques and palaces of Istanbul, and from video installation to delicate and precise meditative drawings. To some extent the range of the works is both the strength and also the challenge of such a prize. How difficult it must be to select a winner, since Mounir Fatmi’s conceptual piece is not in theory comparable to a delicate silk weaving. But this range and fluidity has always been a feature of the extraordinary institution that is the V & A – art, craft and design merge in easy and uneasy ways, providing a visual feast the likes of which we are unlikely to encounter under one roof anywhere else in the world.
Collector and art patron Aziza Allard and Sotheby's Roxane Zand at the opening.
Last week’s winner was Turkish designer and fashion label Dice Kayek, for Istanbul Contrast (2010), a collection of garments that evoke their native architectural and artistic heritage. The judges were impressed with Dice Kayek’s ability to demonstrate how vibrant and creative Islamic art can be. Martin Roth, Director of the V&A and chair of the panel of judges said, “We were struck by the way [the] work uses Islamic inspiration in a completely secular context, taking it into a new world.”
Tim Stanley the curator, and his able partner Salma Tuqan must be congratulated for this wonderful exhibition, which runs till April, giving anyone interested no excuse not to see it.