AMA Art Prize 2020 winner announced

Renowned WA artist Abdul-Rahman Abdullah has been named recipient of Australian Muslim Artists Art Prize 2020, in record field during pandemic.

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah of Mundijong on the outskirts of Perth has been awarded the Australian Muslim Artists prize for his work Transplants, a tribute to his mother and her love of family.

Australian Muslim Artists is an annual exhibition hosted by the Islamic Museum of Australia (IMA) in partnership with La Trobe University, which this year saw a record number of entries from artists across the country.

Abdullah said it’s an amazing feeling to be recognised amongst a talented group of Australian Muslim artists.

“Sometimes it feels like there are so few of us working in the visual arts, especially over here in WA and it means so much that our contributions to the broader Australian cultural landscape are acknowledged by the Islamic Museum of Australia and La Trobe University,” said Abdullah.

Islamic Museum of Australia General Manager Maryum Chaudhry said the Museum moved ahead with its flagship exhibition despite being in the midst of a global pandemic.

“Now more than ever, we feel it’s important to support artists and the arts community which has been deeply affected by the pandemic. Despite Covid-19, we still have the platform to shine a light on artists and we feel it’s incumbent on us to do just that,” said Ms Chaudhry.

“Cultural institutions have had to reimagine how to engage with audiences and the IMA is no exception. The exhibition can be viewed on both the Museum’s website, including a virtual tour and our new Google Arts and Culture page until the Museum reopens,” she said.

The seventeen shortlisted works represent the depth of talent among Australian Muslims and highlight the cultural diversity of Muslims in Australia.

Shortlisted artists have their cultural roots in countries including Malaysia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Pakistan. Some are first generation Australian born Muslims while many others are migrants.

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO, said La Trobe is committed to  building strong connections with Australia’s diverse communities.

“La Trobe congratulates Abdul-Rahman on his exquisite work, Transplants.  The work highlights his craftsmanship and demonstrates the quality of his highly respected sculptural work.”

“I’m delighted that for the second year running, La Trobe University has partnered with the Islamic Museum of Australia to support such an important sector - one which, like many, is facing challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Shortlisting for Australian Muslim Artists was conducted by a panel of judges including Dr Stefano Carboni, currently CEO of the Museums Commission for the Ministry of Culture, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Bala Starr, Director of La Trobe Art Institute; community representative Dr Anisa Buckley and IMA curator, Dr Mahmoud Mohammed.

The Australian Muslim Artists exhibition is on display from 14 August – 20 November 2020 at Museum guests can see the physical exhibition when the IMA re-opens.

As an acquisitive prize, the artwork will become part of the La Trobe Art Institute which manages a collection of art acquired by the University and which has an exhibition and education facility in the arts precinct of central Bendigo.

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Picture: Transplants (Euphorbia, Monstera, Sansevieria), 2019

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (b.1977) is a West Australian based multi-disciplinary artist whose sculptural practice explores the intersection of politics, cultural identity and the natural world. Since graduating from Curtin University in 2012 he has exhibited at leading galleries, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia and Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. While his own experiences as a Muslim Australian of mixed ethnicity provide a starting point, Abdul-Rahman foregrounds shared understandings of individual identity and new mythologies. Living and working in rural Western Australia, he provides a unique perspective across intersecting and often disparate communities.

Transplants (Euphorbia, Monstera, Sansevieria), is a reflection of Abdul-Rahman’s mother. Abdul-Rahman describes how her expertise in horticulture and ability to allow the natural world to thrive in her care is matched only by the love that surrounds her as the family matriarch. Since arriving in Australia from Malaysia fifty years ago, she has made each house a home for her children and grandchildren. Abdul-Rahman owes it to his mum to keep his plants alive, to let his garden flourish and to love his children like she loves hers.

Media contact (La Trobe)

Kathryn Powley | Media and Communications Acting Manager | 0456 764 371 |

Media contact (Islamic Museum of Australia)

Mei Nee Cheong | Media and Marketing Manager | Islamic Museum of Australia | 0414 264 987 |