Vesica Blog Taking museums and art collections to the cloud

August 7, 2011

V&A’s Jameel Prize 2011 is weak

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) happens to be one of my favoured larger London museums, but that’s not going to save this year’s Jameel prize. Whilst the Jameel Family and the Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI) have done very well to raise awareness about Islamic Art and Craft (including their substantial donation for the Jameel Gallery at the V&A), the Jameel Prize 2011 is money wasted – something that would be better spent on preserving some of the traditional Islamic craft, or for that matter, helping feed people in the Horn of Africa.

Whilst it is no secret that I don’t really like contemporary or modern art, some of the quality of work shortlisted this year is just bad – and that’s the best thing I can say about it. Such contemporary art, when claimed that it is inspired by the traditions of Islamic craft and design, is simply insulting to those master craftsman who created some of the worlds most stunning textiles, calligraphy and architecture at the height of the Islamic Empire.

Contemporary artists sometimes fail to realize that the very basics of Islamic Art are about beauty, and I’m afraid that some of the works at this exhibition were far from being beautiful. Aisha Khalid’s ‘Name, Class and Subject’ , Hadieh Shafie’s ’22500′ paper scroll works or Soddy Sharifi’s ‘Frolicking Women’ are among the works included in the exhibition, and these suffer from the classic case of deficient contemporary art – don’t focus on making it beautiful, but write a fancy description about it. In fact, if you read the description provided for the works, some of them are plain wrong. Of Hadieh Shafie’s work, for instance, the V&A states that therein ‘the notion of meditative process, repetition and time  as found in Islamic art, craft and architecture is a constant element’. That’s actually quite inaccurate. Nothing about the Hadieh’s pieces in the exhibition represents this as it is done in Islamic Art. The application of the Breath of the Compassionate (or other such pattern) is representative of this meditative process and repetition, paper scrolls of varying sizes are not. Whilst I am not saying that the work is bad, it does not deserve any praise for its reference to a contemporary form of Islamic Art.

The exhibition wasn’t all bad, though. Some of the pieces were good – Aisha Khalid’s Kashmiri Shawl and Bita Ghezelayagh’s ‘Felt Memories’ tunic were some of the pieces that really stood out. Perhaps they were the least abstract of the lot and let their beauty and quality of work do the talking, which is what you would expect from a good work of art.

But don’t take my word for it – the exhibition runs until 25 September 2011. More information is available on http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/j/jameel-prize-2011-shortlist/.

February 15, 2011

Painting Techniques Inspired by Ottoman Textiles

A workshop by Nausheen Sheikh

Introduction

The Traditional Crafts are derived from the intertwining of wisdom (hikmah) and craftsmanship (fann or sinaah). Traditional textiles and costumes enable one to wander through the history of the world, from the rise of civilizations to the fall of empires, with a blend of diverse cultures, legends and religions.

Traditional textiles continue to resonate humble beauty and the substance of art is beauty and this is a Divine quality.

Join Nausheen Sheikh, Director of Research and Documentation – Islamic Art and Textiles at Vesica, for a workshop that will take you on a timeless journey through the history, techniques, symbolism and application of these Traditional textiles.

Traditional textiles are rich in pattern, colour and texture. This workshop will introduce students to the harmony of colours and an understanding of pattern created by Geometry and ‘Islimi’ – also known as the Arabesque – and the textural quality of textiles. This will be achieved through traditional painting techniques.

Expected Outcomes

  • To create a painted paper panel of a textile design inspired by the traditional textiles.
  • Design sketches and colour schemes inspired by traditional textiles.
  • Diary/sketchbook of the design process with stages and thoughts.
  • Textile design panel


Workshop Date, Time and Location

Date: Saturdays from 26 February to 19 March.

Timings: 10:30 am to 4:00 pm

Location: Office of Vesica Limited, 16-24 Underwood Street, London, N1 7JQ

Closest tube station: Old Street

Fees: £250 (materials included)


To Book call Vesica on 020 8133 8050 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)

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