The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)

With a fixed collection of over 2.3 million objects, the Victoria and Albert Museum is recognised as the world’s leading museum of art and design. The museum first opened its doors in 1852, when it had already amassed an impressive collection of Islamic artwork and crafts. In 2006, when one of the galleries required renovating, Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel became involved with the project by supporting the creation of a home worthy of the unique artefacts displayed, and to assist the museum with expanding the existing collection.

Now known as the Jameel Gallery, it houses over 400 objects, including ceramics, textiles, carpets, metalwork, glass and woodwork, which date from the great days of the Islamic caliphate of the 8th and 9th centuries to the years preceding the First World War. The Gallery was dedicated to the memory of Mohammed Jameel’s parents, Mrs Nafisa and Mr Abdul Latif Jameel, the late founder of Abdul Latif Jameel. A highlight of the collection is the Ardabil Carpet, the world oldest dated carpet and one of the largest, most beautiful and historically important.

The Jameel Prize 

The Jameel Prize, founded in partnership with Art Jameel, was conceived after the renovation of the V&A’s Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art. The Prize aims to raise awareness of the thriving interaction between contemporary practice and the great historical legacy of the region. It has also contributed to a broader understanding of Islamic culture as well as its place in the contemporary world.

Launched in 2009, the winner of the first Jameel Prize was Afruz Amighi for her work 1001 Pages (2008), an intricate hand-cut screen made from the woven plastic used to construct refugee tents. In 2011 Rachid Koraïchi was awarded the prize, for his work Les Maîtres Invisibles (The Invisible Masters, 2008), a group of embroidered cloth banners which display Arabic calligraphy and symbols and ciphers to explore the lives and legacies of the 14 great mystics of Islam. In 2013 the winner of Jameel Prize 3 was Dice Kayek, a Turkish fashion label established in 1992 by Ece and Ayşe Ege for their series Istanbul Contrast, a collection that evokes Istanbul’s architectural and artistic heritage. This was the first time the Jameel Prize was awarded to designers. In 2016, the winner of Jameel Prize 4 was Ghulam Mohammad, who trained in the Islamic tradition of miniature painting, for his works of paper collage. In 2018 the first ever joint winners of Jameel Prize 5 were Mehdi Moutashar — awarded for his bold work of minimalist abstraction rooted in Islamic geometry and Marina Tabassum — for her visionary Bait ur Rouf mosque built in 2012 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Now a triennial Prize, the sixth edition in 2021 marks a new era. Future Jameel Prizes will be dedicated to a single discipline, with the 2021 edition focusing on contemporary design.

Beirut Mapped

Beirut Mapped is an editorial project that invites reflections on the city of Beirut from the perspective of artists and writers who live there. Lebanon is living through a crippling economic crisis alongside the global pandemic, and coping with the effects of the devastating port explosion of 4 August 2020. Popular uprisings against government corruption began in October 2019, and the movement has continued around lockdowns. In the midst of struggle and loss—of human life, homes, and cultural heritage—what places or objects best capture the city’s present, speak to its history, and look to its future? The project seeks to build a partial and imperfect map of Beirut, through its material and intangible traces. Beirut Mapped is organised in partnership with the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut, and is part of the V&A’s Jameel Programming. The Beirut Mapped posts are commissioned and edited by the V&A Jameel Curator, Rachel Dedman.

The Jameel Fellowship 2021/22 

The Jameel Fellowship series invites contemporary artists, designers, writers and curators from the SWANA region and its diasporas to spend time in residence at the V&A. Focused on investigation rather than making, the Fellowships support the development of new lines of enquiry in the Fellows’ work, facilitating artistic and curatorial research in conversation with the V&A’s collection.

The V&A’s inaugural Jameel Fellows, joining the museum in 2021/22 are Nour Hage, Dima Srouji and Babak Golkar. The Fellowship series is organised by the V&A’s Jameel Curator, Rachel Dedman.

Nour Hage

Nour Hage is an award-winning Lebanese fashion designer, textile artist and digital artist based in London. Her practice is rooted in the exploration of Middle Eastern identities, culture, history & storytelling. Across her design and art practices, she focuses on archival research into cultural practices, historical events and aesthetics.

While engaging in archival research for her collections and art pieces, Hage is particularly interested in the social lived-in context around the garments and textiles she is researching. She places particular emphasis on what garments reveal about people’s practical uses for them, what their daily lives looked like and what cultural context they were inscribed in.

Hage graduated in 2010 from Parsons Paris School of Art and Design with a BFA in Fashion Design. After stints at Elie Saab and Oscar de la Renta, she joined the design team at Damir Doma in Paris. In 2012, she launched her own eponymous brand in Beirut, relocating to London in 2016. She was awarded the Boghossian Foundation Prize in 2014.

Dima Srouji

Dima Srouji is a Palestinian architect and artist working in the expanded context of interdisciplinary research-based projects using multiple mediums. Her work deals with strata and artifacts of the ground and explores mapping displaced objects using various methodologies of storytelling. She has worked closely with glass, archives, maps, and plaster casts and has exhibited her work at Sharjah Architecture Triennial, Art Dubai, Haifa Arab Cultural Center, Amman Design Week, Dubai Design Week, London Design Festival, the Qattan Foundation, and the Third Line Gallery Library in Dubai.

She has lived and practiced in London, New Haven at Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Milan at Cino Zucchi Architetti and Ramallah at the Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation. In 2017 she founded a glass blowing project under the name of Hollow Forms that she has continued to develop since. Srouji is a graduate of the Yale School of Architecture where she taught as Peter Eisenman’s fellow, and more recently held a position as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the American University of Sharjah. She presently serves as a board member on the Yale Arab Alumni Association and teaches design studios at Birzeit University. She spent her time in quarantine creating an online platform and collective of Palestinian designers both local and in the diaspora.

Babak Golkar

Born in America (1977) and raised in Iran, Babak Golkar is an artist based in Vancouver, Canada. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Visual Arts from Emily Carr Institute and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia. Golkar’s research-based art practice is concerned with seeing and, by extension, the systems and apparatuses involved in constructing images that we see. By distorting assumed certainties of perspective, Golkar questions accepted cultural and socio-economic systems and ideological viewpoints—as well as their persistence over time. His employment of subversive tactics, often through humorous strategies and manifested in an array of media and object forms, constitute Golkar’s signature working process of deconstruction, replication and transformation.

Select exhibitions and presentations include Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; Polygon Gallery, North Vancouver; Aga Khan Museum, Toronto; Museum Villa Stvck, Munich; Institute for New Connotative Action, Seattle; Sazmanab, Tehran; Sharjah Contemporary Art Museum; Fondation Boghossian – Villa Empain, Brussels; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, among others.

Friday Late x Jameel: Museum Leila

Follow Leila as she accidentally falls asleep at the museum and wakes up to find herself locked inside and seemingly alone. As she roams the halls in search of a way out, she enters a surreal world where fantastical objects come to life in the shadows – blurring the distinction between reality and fantasy, light and darkness, conscious and subconscious.

This Friday Late fashion film is commissioned as part of the V&A’s Jameel programming. Directed by visual artist Nadira Amrani, it features looks from Sheryn Akiki, Karim Adduchi, Tatyana Antoun, and Nabil Nayal, which take inspiration from their Lebanese, Moroccan, and Syrian heritage.

Find out more on the V&A Museum blog