Held biennially by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Art Jameel, the Jameel Prize showcases the best contemporary art and design inspired by the Islamic traditions. The exhibition at the V&A presents the works of eight shortlisted artists and designers including the joint winners – artist Mehdi Moutashar and architect Marina Tabassum.

The exhibition room contains a variety of different art forms including installation, fashion design and photography. Painting is well represented by Wardha Shabbir and Hayv Kahraman, both of whom reimagine the traditional art of miniature painting.

My personal favourite is the work by the naqsh collective – Shawl (2015). This large wooden panel is decorated with carvings and ornaments based on traditional Palestinian embroidery patterns. The lower part of the panel gives an impression of an unfinished textile stretched on a loom. The naqsh collective was founded by two Jordanian sisters: nisreen and nermeed abudail, who use a variety of geometric patterns in their minimalistic designs. I like the idea that by using longer-lasting materials, such as wood and brass, their project in a way immortalizes the embroidery. The ornaments in their designs are often asymmetrical which puts a modern twist on traditional Islamic arts and architecture. Breaking with symmetry adds interest to the pieces and creates an unfinished but elegant look.


naqsh collective shawl
naqsh collective – Shawl (2015) walnut wood, brass, paint. (detail)

I also need to mention an eye-catching installation by a Moroccan artist Younes Rahmoun – Tâqiya-Nôr (Hat-Light), which was given its own enclosed space. 77 illuminated woollen hats connected by electric wires, according to the artist, represent the many different forms of Islam and the unity of faith. Looking at this installation, the system of wires also resembles veins or vegetation, which projects the ideas of life forces and streams of energy. 

 taqiyat nor 1

Younes Rahmoun – Tâqiya-Nôr (Hat-Light) 2016, multimedia installation. (detail) 

The Jameel Prize 5 exhibition is at the V&A until 25 Nov 2018.

More on the Jameel Prize 5 and the individual artists can be found here:


For more on naqsh collective check this website:


More on Younes Rahmoun here:


The Jameel Prize 5 exhibition is at the V&A until 25 Nov 2018.


  1. The Shawl looks fantastic, I looked at the picture for such a long time! It is something I haven’t seen before! I am jealous you have access to so many amazing exhibitions! Please write more! I will live the experience through your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. Yes, the Shawl has such a captivating beauty about it. I never thought a piece of wood could be transformed into such fascinating art. I love art that surprises you.


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