Exhibition drawing on Islamic heritage helps break barriers

Viewing a dress made by Turkish fashion label Dice Kayek at the Jameel Prize 3 exhibition yesterday are (from left) Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim; NTU College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences dean Alan Chan; and M
Viewing a dress made by Turkish fashion label Dice Kayek at the Jameel Prize 3 exhibition yesterday are (from left) Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim; NTU College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences dean Alan Chan; and Mr Tim Stanley, senior curator at London's Victoria and Albert Museum.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

A Turkish fashion designer drew on Byzantine mosaics to craft luxurious handwoven coats, while a French artist was inspired by Arabic geometric patterns to form intricate designs out of spices.

These are among the varied art forms on display at a modern art exhibition inspired by centuries of Islamic traditions, which opened at the National Library building yesterday.

The show features works by 10 artists and designers shortlisted for an international prize on Islamic art.

Opening the Jameel Prize 3 exhibition last night, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim told reporters that exhibitions like this can help members of the public better understand Islamic traditions and their contributions to the world.

Such art shows, he said, are an opportunity for young artists from various backgrounds to draw on Islamic tradition and culture to create contemporary pieces of art.

They also show that Islam, like other religions, has contributed much to the development of civilisations, and has a role to play in developing world culture, added Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs.

"I welcome this exhibition as a way we can break down that barrier, that lack of understanding, for us to appreciate that the rich history of Islam can be brought forward into the modern world by young minds of different backgrounds," he said.

Professor Alan Chan, dean of Nanyang Technological University's College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, said Islam has a rich heritage that is not well understood, and hoped the exhibition would generate a better understanding and appreciation of the religion.

The show features works by 10 artists and designers shortlisted for the Jameel Prize in 2013. The international art prize, worth £25,000 (S$53,900), is awarded every two years, and was launched in 2009 by London's Victoria and Albert Museum, in partnership with Art Jameel, an initiative of the Dubai-based Abdul Latif Jameel international business group.

The exhibition here is presented by NTU's School of Art, Design and Media, with sponsorship from the S.M. Jaleel Foundation.

It is being held at Level 10 of the National Library in Victoria Street until Nov 30, from 10 am to 9pm daily. Admission is free.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline 'Exhibition drawing on Islamic heritage helps break barriers'. Print Edition | Subscribe