Paradise Has Many Gates – Daytime, by Ajlan Gharem, 2015. © Photograph: Ajlan Gharem

The sixth edition of the Jameel Prize has chosen design as a new thematic focus this year. Over 400 entries were received from designers all over the world however only eight designers were shortlisted by an international jury that included Dr Tristram Hunt (Director of the V&A – Chair), Alice Rawsthorn (design critic and author), Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi (writer, researcher and founder of Barjeel Art Foundation), Mehdi Moutashar (artist and joint winner of Jameel Prize 5) and Marina Tabassum (architect and joint winner of Jameel Prize 5).

The works of the eight designers from India, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the UK will be presented in an exhibition at the V&A which will be on display from the 18th of September to the 28th of November 2021. The winner will be announced at the exhibition’s opening.

Jameel Prize: Poetry to Politics exhibition is devoted to contemporary design inspired by Islamic tradition, it reflects the ways in which Islamic art and culture remain rich sources of inspiration for contemporary design.

Jameel Prize: Poetry to Politics will tour to two international venues after the V&A.

Meet the finalists

Golnar Adili (USA)
Ye Harvest From the Eleven-Page Letter, by Golnar Adili, 2016. © Photograph: Golnar Adili
Ye Harvest From the Eleven-Page Letter, by Golnar Adili, 2016. © Photograph: Golnar Adili

Golnar Adili’s practice explores aspects of her identity through Persian language and poetry, her work on display in the Jameel Prize pays homage to her father, transforming one of his letters into an installation both monumental and delicate.

Hadeyeh Badri (UAE)
Prayer is my Mail, by Hadeyeh Badri, 2019. © Photograph: Alex Younger
Prayer is my Mail, by Hadeyeh Badri, 2019. © Photograph: Alex Younger

Hadeyeh Badri’s weavings incorporate Arabic writing into the dense and delicate fabric. The text is personal, taken from the diary of Badri’s beloved late aunt, and Badri uses weaving as a way of reconnecting with her. Calling upon poetic tropes and their connection to memory, Badri considers her textiles intimate, imperfect monuments to loved ones.

Kallol Datta (India)
Look 4, Volume 1, by Kallol Datta, 2018. © Photograph: Siddhartha Hajra
Look 4, Volume 1, by Kallol Datta, 2018. © Photograph: Siddhartha Hajra

Kallol Datta’s design process involves rigorous creative research and experimental pattern-cutting. In his bold contemporary clothing, Datta mines and combines the shapes of the abaya, manteau, hanbok, hijab and caftan, with gestures of enveloping, layering and veiling.

Farah Fayyad (Lebanon)
Documentation of Farah Fayyad’s screen-printing intervention during the Lebanese revolution, 2019. © Photograph: Tony Elieh
Documentation of Farah Fayyad’s screen-printing intervention during the Lebanese revolution, 2019. © Photograph: Tony Elieh

During popular uprisings in Lebanon in 2019, Farah Fayyad and a group of friends installed a manual screen-printing press at the heart of the Beirut protests. They printed artworks and slogans by local designers onto the clothing of protestors, bringing Arabic typography into the public and political sphere. Equally passionate about Arabic typography, her contemporary typeface, Kufur, is based on historic Kufic calligraphy.

Ajlan Gharem (Saudi Arabia)
Paradise Has Many Gates – Daytime, by Ajlan Gharem, 2015. © Photograph: Ajlan Gharem
Paradise Has Many Gates – Daytime, by Ajlan Gharem, 2015. © Photograph: Ajlan Gharem

Ajlan Gharem’s work explores the changing nature of society in Saudi Arabia. Gharem’s architectural installation Paradise Has Many Gates is true to the form and design of a traditional mosque, but is made of the cage-like chicken wire used for border walls and prison fences. Although the wire feels uninviting, even frightening, it also renders the mosque transparent and open – even welcoming.

Sofia Karim (UK)
Samosa packet on Nepal women’s resistance. Designed and made by Sofia Karim using photographs from Nepal Picture Library printed on her mother’s old song notes and her children’s drawings. Part of Sofia Karim’s Turbine Bagh project, 2019-ongoing. © Photograph: Sofia Karim
Samosa packet on Nepal women’s resistance. Designed and made by Sofia Karim using photographs from Nepal Picture Library printed on her mother’s old song notes and her children’s drawings. Part of Sofia Karim’s Turbine Bagh project, 2019-ongoing. © Photograph: Sofia Karim

Sofia Karim’s Turbine Bagh project was inspired by the 2019 protests in Shaheen Bagh, a neighbourhood in Delhi, against the Indian government’s Citizenship Amendment Act. The Act is part of an alarming rise in Islamophobic attitudes and legislation in India. As the protests have grown into an historic civil rights movement, Karim invites artists, writers and thinkers to design samosa packets for Shaheen Bagh.

Jana Traboulsi (Lebanon)
Kitab al-Hawamish (Book of Margins), by Jana Traboulsi, 2017. © Photograph: Peter Kelleher
Kitab al-Hawamish (Book of Margins), by Jana Traboulsi, 2017. © Photograph: Peter Kelleher

Stemming from research into Middle Eastern book-making traditions, Jana Traboulsi’s Kitab al-Hawamish (Book of Margins), 2017, explores margins and marginalia in Arabic manuscript production. Kitab al-Hawamish celebrates subtle elements of book design: from letter shapes to phonetics and footnotes, the materiality of parchment and the role of recitation, the function of catchwords, and the origins of paper formats.

Bushra Waqas Khan (Pakistan)
Untitled, by Bushra Waqas Khan, 2019. © Photograph: Rafay Anwer Creative Studio
Untitled, by Bushra Waqas Khan, 2019. © Photograph: Rafay Anwer Creative Studio

Bushra Waqas Khan’s inspiration and source material is affidavit paper, which is decorated with national emblems and Islamic patterns, and used for all official documents in Pakistan. Khan transfers the paper’s patterns onto fabric, which she cuts and embroiders into elaborate garments.

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