Inaugural Australian Muslim Artists art prize winner on show until November

Australian Muslim Artists exhibition

Inaugural Australian Muslim Artists art prize winner on show until November

Archibald Prize (2011) finalist, Abdul Abdullah is the recipient of the inaugural $15,000 Australian Muslim Artists Art Prize 2019, hosted by the Islamic Museum of Australia. The exhibition will be on show at the Thornbury venue until November 8, 2019.

We spoke to Maryum Chaudhry to learn more about the exhibition and the Melbourne museum. Read more below!

What is the Australian Muslim Artists exhibition and why was it created?
Australian Muslim Artists (AMA) is an exhibition curated by the Islamic Museum of Australia. Shortly after the Islamic Museum opened in 2014, we realised there was a real opportunity and natural alignment for the Museum to provide a platform for both established and emerging Australian Muslim artists to exhibit their work in a professional gallery setting. 

One of the Museum’s objectives is to share the beauty of Islam, namely the Australian Muslim Artists and their contribution to Australian society and AMA is very much an extension of that.

What is the significance of the inaugural Art Prize?
About 12 months ago, we reviewed the AMA concept with the view of taking the exhibition to the next level.  The Art Prize is an opportunity to give back to our arts community. 

We have a strong relationship with La Trobe University who share our values and commitment around strengthening cultural awareness through education, research and the arts. With this, we approached them about supporting the Australian Muslim Artists Art Prize and were thrilled by their enthusiasm.

La Trobe University are amazing to work with, they understand our vision and have supported us in other ways to help elevate the AMAs.

Australian Muslim Artists exhibitionWhy was Abdul Abdullah’s work selected as the inaugural prize recipient?
A panel of three judges gave consideration to all works and were all very taken by Abdul’s piece, You can call me troublesome. While I wasn’t part of the judging process, I can share with you one of the judge’s comments:

The artist’s integrated use of medium and content – where painted image meets embroidered tactility and photographic portraiture meets digital iconography – provides a wholly unique visual language that marries elements of tradition and contemporaneity. A reflection on identity in a time of mass communication, Abdullah’s work evokes ideas of the digital projection of emotions and expressions and how these manifest avatars of actual felt experiences. Machinic representation of reality and how humanity is captured and communicated through media and impression, is conjured in the work, with tension between domesticity and social celebration.”

How was the calibre of work in this year’s exhibition? Was there an overarching theme across many of the works?
The calibre of work is incredible.  The breadth of talent amongst established and emerging artists is so impressive. While the exhibition itself has no binding theme beyond being an Australian Muslim, there are certainly themes across subject matter for a lot of the work.  There are works that look at belonging, identity and faith, while others are framed around the human cost of war.

Why is important to share the work of Australian Muslim Artists?
There are very talented Muslim artists in the country and we want to give them an opportunity to share their work.  For minority groups, it can often be challenging for voices to be heard. Australian Muslim Artists is very much about both enabling and empowering artists to be seen and heard. 

Australian Muslim Artists exhibition

How was the response to the Future Australian Muslim Artists category?
Like the AMAs, there were some incredible submissions for the Future Australian Muslim Artists (FAMA) category. It’s the first time we’ve opened this category and like the AMA has over the last five years, we expect this to grow.  In 2020, it will be bigger and better and we’ll work with secondary school art teachers to look at ways to grow participation.

Hashim Mohamed who won the Future Australian Muslim Artists Art Prize was so thrilled, as was his family. He’s a student at Australian International Academy in Melbourne and the school community wholeheartedly embraced his success.  Everyone from his art teacher to the school principal were so proud of him. His peers brought in cakes, chocolates and threw him a party. 

This epitomises the intent of the exhibition and art prizes – it’s about celebrating and sharing Muslim creative talent.

Why is it important to showcase the works of up-and-coming artists in this way?
For budding high school artists, FAMA not only gives them a platform to share their work in a professional gallery setting but inshaAllah (God willing) also helps to grow confidence in their ability and selves. 

Australian Muslim Artists Exhibition 2019
WHEN: Until Nov 8, 2019
WHERE: Islamic Museum of Australia, Thornberry VIC
COST: Free after admission costs
More information HERE

Anisha Mistry

As the Editor of CulturalPulse, Anisha is passionate about listening to, writing and sharing stories of Australia's multicultural achievement. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: [email protected]