Jameel Prize, Islamic art scene

In 2006, when the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the museum launched a new initiative to encourage new interaction between artists and the Islamic world. The result was the Jameel Prize for Contemporary Art and Design Inspired by Islamic Tradition, under the patronage of the Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives and the architect Zaha Hadid. The award’s aim is to explore the relationship between Islamic traditions of art, craft and design and contemporary work as part of a wider debate about Islamic culture and its role today. This year, the winner of Jameel Prize 3 is the Turkish fashion design studio Dice Kayek, for its collection Istanbul Contrasts, inspired by the architectural and artistic heritage of the city.
The Victoria and Albert Museum hosts one of the world’s biggest collection of Islamic art from the Middle East. The collection includes textiles, ceramics, manuscripts and furniture from the Islamic world. The collection’s origins go back to the 1850s, when many British travellers explored the Middle East and discovered its rich traditions. In the 19th century, the Museum’s curators set its mission to reform British design in light of the inspiring creativity they found at the East. The Islamic idea of matching decoration to shape and function was the guiding light of new British design. Today, the Jameel Prize sought to recover these ideas by proposing the Islamic traditions as a relevant source of inspiration for contemporary international designers and artists.
Dice Kayek, this year’s winner, is a fashion label from Turkey established by sisters Ece and Ayse Ege. Their collection, Istanbul Contrasts, examines the architectural and textile heritage of Istanbul. One of the highlights of the collection is the caftan, a traditional robe worn by the Ottoman rulers, made of hand-woven lame’ brocade. Another item, Dome 2, evokes the view of the city’s mosques, topped with ‘pleated’ metallic domes. Byzantine mosaics inspire a white satin coat, named Hagia Sophia,
covered with a rich hand-made embroidery of antique glass beads. The garments were displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and in the next year will be part of a travelling international exhibition which includes the ten nominees for the Jameel Prize 3.