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Thank you to all artists who submitted their work in the Australian Muslim Artists 2019 exhibition. Congratulations to shortlisted artists. We look forward to an even bigger AMA 2020. 
The Australian Muslim Artists Art Prize is supported by:
AUSTRALIAN MUSLIM ARTISTS ART PRIZE RECIPIENT 2019
Abdul Abdullah You can call me troublesome, 2019 Manual embroidery 150 × 120 cm Abdul Abdullah (b.1986) is an artist from Perth, currently based in Sydney. As a self-described ‘outsider amongst outsiders’, his practice is primarily concerned with the experience of the ‘other’ in society. Abdullah’s projects have engaged with different marginalised minority groups and he is particularly interested in the experience of young Muslims in the contemporary multicultural Australian context, as well as connecting with creative communities throughout the Asia Pacific. Through these processes and explorations Abdullah extrapolates this outlook to an examination of universal aspects of human nature. You can call me troublesome from the series ‘Call me by my name’ (2018) features a pensive young woman behind a scrawled smiley-face emoji. Abdullah writes: ‘In making the work I was concerned about the accusations directed at younger generations that they are not living up to the former generation’s expectations. In this embroidery, a young person looks out at the viewer from behind the superficially qualifying symbol of a smiley-face. The contrasting smiley-face icon and the figure lurking behind suggest a facade of joy, shielding the viewer from a deeper, more ominous truth concealed within the stoic sitter’.
Mohsen Meysami Sit; See, Not See, 2018 Wood, acrylic colour and mirror sheets, velvet, embroidery thread, foam. Digital print and laser cut, hand embroidery 110 × 75 × 250 cm Mohsen Meysami is an Iranian artist who works between Iran and Australia. In his art practice, he explores various ways through which he can address the contradiction between the suffering of people dealing with issues of wars in the Middle-East and the global indifference towards them. His artworks range from intricate bead- works on found Persian Kilims to digital illustrations and public art projects. In Sit: See, Not See, the artist used traditional materials and methods such as wood, and embroidery along with modern technology digital print and laser cut, in order to create a new experiential artwork comprising unique elements of Islamic art. The use of traditional materials along with modern technologies both signify the history of the region and the complexity and contemporaneity of the issue.
Khaled Sabsabi Tripoli (part 2), 2018 Acrylic, watercolour and gouache on dye diffusion thermal transfer prints 8 × 10.1 × 15.1 cm Born in 1965 in Tripoli, Khaled Sabsabi left Lebanon with his family in the 1970s to escape the civil war. He arrived to Australia in 1978 and completed his Master of Arts at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Sabsabi started his creative practice in the late 1980s, both as a performer and as a youth worker. In his work, he used his knowledge and passion for the arts to help young people coming from Arabic, Aboriginal and Pacific Islander backgrounds. From these earliest endeavours, Sabsabi’s work showed a strong interest in social justice, as he aimed at empowering marginalised individuals to counteract racism and Islamophobia. In his work Tripoli (part 2), Sabsabi depicts his city of birth through a series of paintings. Of Tripoli, or ‘Tarabulus’ (in Arabic), he writes: ‘It is my birth place, my place of separation and possibly my place of reunion’.
Mirela Cufurovic ʾIhsān (Excellence in Faith), 2018 Watercolour painting 29.7 x 42.0 cm Mirela Cufurovic is a self-taught, Sydney based watercolour artist. She began her career in early 2012 and has been recognised for her art talent by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Cufurovic draws her inspiration from both prominent international and local artists such as Agnes Cecile, Kelly McKernan, Del Kathryn Barton and Amani Haydar. Her work is mostly inspired by her faith and her identity as a Bosnian Muslim. ʾIhsān is a watercolour painting depicting a man reading the Quran with sincerity and utter devotion – a symbol of peace and excellence in faith.

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD RECIPIENT 2019

Laila Tabassum
Serenity, 2019
Acrylic painting
32 x 42 cm

Although Laila Tabassum’s main profession is in
architecture, she has been exploring art since childhood.
Experimenting with a variety of media – such as oil
colour, acrylic, pencil sketch, oil pastel – Laila is a diverse
artist who sells her paintings through her online shop
called ‘The Wattle’ on Etsy.

Her work is inspired by the exotic beauty of nature.
In Serenity, she aims at capturing nature’s vibrant and
colourful characteristics. The scene is framed by the
luscious wild grass and by a lake filtering the sunlight.
The playful paper boats, which are drifting along the
shimmering lake add dynamism to the story.

Azza Zein Taskscape, 2019 Oil painting on pine wood, soil, gold mica leaves mounted on Medium-Density Fibreboard (MDF) and cowrie shells Azza Zein is a Beirut-born, Melbourne-based artist currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). Her research explores how artworks can comment on the dematerialisation of the economy and invisibility of labour. She has had solo and group exhibitions in artist- run spaces around Melbourne and participated in art residencies in Argentina and India. Taskscape draws on the tradition of shell inlay into wood juxtaposed with other domestic materials such as textiles and soil. Shells have had diverse significance and have been used as money in some cultures and as a binary dice in others. The separation of labour from land is connected to a conceptual understanding of these terms within capitalism as productive resources only. Borrowing the term from the anthropologist Tim Ingold, the work echoes both domestic space and an economy of circulation: money, trade and the movement of migrant bodies. It also questions traditional notions of western landscape.
Amber Hammad Veiling Unveiling, 2019 Pencil on paper 13 x 18.5 cm Amber Hammad is currently a Master of Fine Arts by Research student at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney. Her art practice investigates her identity as a Muslim woman of colour from South Asia, in relation to art history, attire and gender. Appropriated from Mughal miniature painting, this work – while advancing the tradition of learning by practicing the art of miniature painting through copying old master’s works – comments on the veiling and unveiling of the female body and space, as well as the veiling and unveiling of the archive and history. Living in a highly digitized world, this work wants to evoke a sense that there is an omnipotent presence and lessons to be learned from the past.
Güler Altunbas The Nur Permeating into the Night, 2019 Digital Media 68 x 103 cm Güler Altunbas is a Melbourne-based artist practicing in a variety of media such as painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking and digital technologies. For almost five years, she has conducted weekly workshops for artists with mental health concerns at the Farnham Street Neighbourhood Learning Centre in Flemington. Since 2010, Güler’s work has been exhibited in galleries all around Victoria, including at the Yarra Gallery (Federation Square) and at Bundoora Homestead Arts Centre. The Nur Permeating into the Night is inspired by Islamic teachings regarding Laylatul Qadr, ‘The Night of Power’. Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by Allah on Laylatul Qadr during Ramadan. Allah describes this one night as better than a thousand months (Quran 97:3). ‘Therein, descend the angels and Ar-Rooh angel Jibrail’ (Quran 97:4). The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘the angels will be more numerous on earth that night than the total number of pebbles.’
Farnaz Dadfar Infinite Spaces of the Beloved, 2019 Handwriting Farsi text, Octagonal structure Farnaz Dadfar’s practice provides a small window into an alternative paradigm of spirituality and philosophy of contemporary experience. It uses certain characteristics of Persian Sufi poetry and Farsi literature as contemporary artistic material. Farnaz’s project experientially represents certain aspects of Islamic mysticism to contemporary post-conceptual art. More specifically, it explores parallels and connections between these radically fictionalised, hypothetically materially infinite, and profoundly uncertain forms and contemporary experiences. Infinite Spaces of the Beloved articulates twenty-first century experiences of being and creative possibilities located in hybrid cultural forms and languages. By activating meanings and nonsenses created through linguistic diasporas – using fragmented text and sound as a means of incarnating otherness, de-territorialisation and displacement – the practice imagines utopic alternatives to the increasingly brutal and dystopic realities of twenty first century existence.
Soraya Abidin Spiritual Point, 2019 Textiles 90 x 90 cm Soraya Abidin is a contemporary textiles artist from Sydney. Her art practice explores the notion of inter-culturalism through commonalities of embroidery and quilt crafts practiced by her Malay and Australian ancestors. She is the current Artistic Director of Seed Stitch Collective and the initiator of the Seed Stitch Contemporary Textile Awards (SSCTA) in partnership with the Australian Design Centre. The founding ethos behind the SSCTA initiative is Soraya’s belief, that all cultures are interwoven through a camaraderie found in textiles. The Spiritual Point is a realisation of the mythological Islamic icon, Mount Qaf; a destination regarded as the farthest spiritual point on earth. It is in homage to Sufi Poet Attar, who wrote of a faith that reaches beyond the ordinary and the mythical. In Soraya’s own words, the artwork is made up of: ‘thousands of stitches, as I patiently sew miniature glass beads to radiating layers of appliqued birds, encircling the glittering silk valleys’. The beading only materialising in a certain light, reflects the unseen nature of human intention and ones’ journey of faith when reaching for the farthest spiritual point.
Fatima Killeen Clatter of a glitch, 2018 Silkscreen, paper, acrylic, found objects on wood 5 pieces of 60 x 50 x 16 cm Fatima Killeen defines herself as a painter and a printmaker. She uses motifs inspired from her Islamic heritage to speak about the injustices endured by people living in places of conflict. In the last two decades, her works have specifically aimed at expressing her concern for the humanitarian disregard of those living in occupied lands and regions of struggle. The installation Clatter of a glitch communicates a cultural and spiritual perspective with a universal message of peace that speaks to a diverse population. It contains silk screened boxes housing collections of objects assumingly left behind in war zones. In the centre of the work, smaller boxes are installed as lenses. These lenses express the concern for the humanitarian, political and environmental impact that Western control has imposed on Arab and Muslim countries. Irrespective of its emphasis on the destruction of war, the work provides a space for contemplation and healing.
Nadir Abdella Harari Lights, 2019 Neon Light 57 x 57 cm Nadir Abdella is a proud Australian-Harari (Ethiopia) man. Passionate about design and culture, he is particularly interested in the interface between the modern and the traditional – and how these two concepts can be artistically brought together. Harar is an ancient city found in the Ethiopian highlands; it is the bastion of Islam in East Africa. Harari Lights is a contemporary and innovative take on a traditional Harari icon. The ‘môt’ is traditionally handwoven from brightly dyed straw and can be found decorating the wall of every home in the ancient city of Harar; as well as in the homes of the Harari diaspora. This piece takes the traditional design and colours of the ‘môt’ and modernises it with its bright neon lights and abstract style; it is both futuristic and traditional.  
Anisa Sharif and Rania Gouda Inward Journey – A window to the Soul, 2019 Mixed medium mosaic-glass, gems and Medium-Density Fibreboard (MDF) 100 x 130 cm Created by mosaic artists Anisa Sharif and Rania Gouda, this piece is influenced by the delicate and intricate Andalusian Moroccan decorative arts. In the artists’ own words: ‘This artwork is a celebration of life’s journey, of inner beauty and connecting with one’s own spirituality. By opening the doors and windows within, we not only deepen our understanding of self, but have the courage to invite others into our hearts. This window is symbolic of our lives, not only as Australian Muslim artists, but as individuals on our own journeys. For us, this artwork signifies vision, courage and adventure. Every piece of this mosaic window represents part of our own modern day story. Perhaps, this ‘creative window’ we’ve opened has lead us to become torch bearers, illuminating the way for all who see this artwork to revive the ancient Islamic arts that will continue to inspire generations to come. As we step into the unknown we reflect on the quote by Rumi: “Every door is another passage, another boundary we have to go beyond”.’  
FUTURE AUSTRALIAN MUSLIM ARTISTS ART PRIZE RECIPIENT 2019
Hashim Mohamed Solitude, 2019 Photography 60 × 20 cm Hashim Mohamed is a Melbourne-based student at the Australian International Academy. He defines himself as passionate about photography, with a particular interest in landscapes and portraits. This photograph was taken during a trip to Kerala, India. The veiled figure represents a local who accompanied him during a trek up to a small village called Kakkadampoyil.  
Zabihullah Zulfaqari The story of death, 2019 Photography 29 × 42 cm Zabihullah – or ‘Zabi’ – is a Melbourne-based student at Dandenong High School. He moved to Australia three years ago. His artwork entitled The story of death, is a photograph displaying two books and a variety of artefacts.  
Amatullah Azeezah Words are wounds to the soul, 2019 Digital 84.2 × 59.5 cm Amatullah Azeezah is a Melbourne-based Year 10 student at Minaret College. About her artwork, Amatullah says ‘This artwork represents a young black Muslim woman, who has been burnt by the hurtful words others have said to her. These words have scarred her and ripped her of her pride. The visible marks on her face represent her inability to feel beautiful; as she struggles to deal with all the negative comments people have been telling her.’  

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD RECIPIENT 2019

Sara Huq
Medina – A breathtaking experience, 2019
Photography
16.3 × 9.1 cm

Sara Huq is a year 10 student at Presbyterian Ladies’
College (PLC) with a passion for photography.

About her artwork, Sara says ‘Travelling to Medina for
Umrah was a refreshing experience that has enabled
me to encapsulate my time there in just a few precious
images … The liveliness of Medina is incomparable to
any other place in the world.’

 

Jannah Abdellatif Focus, 2019 Acrylic paint 30.5 × 30.5 cm Jannah Abdellatif is a 15-year-old Egyptian-Australian art enthusiast. She enjoys experimenting with a range of mediums to create realistic pieces that showcase flora, fauna and portraiture. She draws her inspiration from the realism art period and from modern realistic artists, such as Chuck Close. Focus is based on the image of a Bengal Tiger captured by the ‘National Geographic’. The title of this artwork aims to highlight the complexity and beauty of a small part of the animal; namely, its eye and its fur. About her artwork, Jannah says ‘It is an homage to this magnificent creature and a reminder of how precious they are’.

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