When the V&A began to collect Islamic art in the 1850s, it broke ground as the first institution in the world to do so. The museum still faithfully champions this mission to this day, promoting – and also rethinking – traditional Islamic art in a contemporary framework, most notably with the conception of its biennial Jameel Prize.
The shortlist of artists and designers has now been revealed for the third edition of its £25,000 art grant, which is awarded to artists and designers examining Middle Eastern art, craft and design through a contemporary filter. First launched in 2009, the Jameel Prize explores the link between modern art practices and Islamic traditions as part of a wider dialogue on Islamic culture and the role it serves.
A judging panel that included Thomas Heatherwick, Martin Roth and previous winner Rachid Koraïchi whittled down 270 entries from across the global to just ten finalists. But it will be some time before the victor is revealed: starchitect (and patron of the Jameel Prize) Zaha Hadid will present the hotly contested award to the overall winner on 10 December.
The nominees include textile designer Rahul Jain, who will showcase intricate Indo-Iranian textiles from his Varanasi drawloom workshop, and Parisian artist Laurent Mareschal, who works with ephemeral household materials to create site-specific installations. Florie Salnot is presenting jewellery pieces from her ongoing 'Plastic Gold' project, while calligrapher Nasser Al-Salem creates conceptual ink drawings based on the Arabic language. From furniture to fashion to typography, this year’s finalists work across disciplines as eclectic as their cultural backgrounds, which is what will make the exhibition of their shortlisted artworks all the more intriguing when it opens at the V&A in December.