Fatima Killeen is the winner of the Australian Muslim Artist Art Award 2021. Killeen, who has lived in Canberra since 1994, won $ 10,000 for her work, The Crooked Narrative, which speaks to the misleading promises of peacekeepers in Islamic countries.Fatima Killeenis the first female artist to win this competition and the first artist to win such a big award in Australia.

“There is a place to record people’s culture and promote social cohesion through art, and the award is open to any Australian artist who creates works inspired by Islamic art and Islamic identity,” says Mustafa Fafur, founder and director of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia in Thornbury, Melbourne.

“There is a poem in the Qur’an that says; ‘We have made you a country and a tribe so that you can know each other,’” says Fafur. “You are from different countries and can have different backgrounds, but you can also be Australian and have an Australian Muslim identity.”

She says the use of pomegranates, which are believed to have sacred life-giving properties, and the use of grenades on traditional Islamic geometric tile patterns is important in understanding Islamic life.

“Islamic art has beauty and a message. [We want] To let people know what’s going on, “says Killeen.

She says peacekeeping “misleading” stories target Islamic countries, causing bloodshed and environmental damage.“Islamic countries are the most suffering countries and live at the mercy of Western countries.”

Reflecting on recent events in Afghanistan, … “Twenty years later, if we were really doing peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan, Palestine, or Gaza, we would have done so much.”“Sometimes it’s very difficult,” she says of the process of creating her work. “It will stop in the middle and fall apart.”

Other finalists will have the chance to win the People’s Choice Awards and $ 500 based on a general vote.

For Preston-based Lebanese-born Ayman Kaake, 34, his work “I miss you, habibi” (Arabic for “my love”) is inspired by his mother, Malak El Salloum. ..A 12-year-old mother, she always made Kake feel special, and every time she returned from Hajj, he brought back View-Master, a device for viewing photos and postcards, with holy images.

“I came from Lebanon in 2011 and pursued my dream of doing visual arts here in Australia. I started creating digitally manipulated images and talking about my feelings,” he says.“My self-portraits show how nostalgic and homesick I feel, and I put them in the Viewmaster and send them to my mother.”

Kake said he used to feel the pressure to train as an engineer to secure a good future.“I lied. I was doing cinematography when I went to Beirut, but I told my family that I was doing telecommunications engineering.”But when his mother finally saw the pictures his son was making, she was proud and impressed with him. “She told me on WhatsApp,” I miss you too, Habibi. “

“I was inspired by the story my family told me, and then I drew on paper, and it’s kind of engineering,” he says. “I will probably take 100 photos and but only one will work.”

“My mother is the inspiration for this piece. She is a strong woman. That’s what I want to give people.”

For 32-year-old Mysha Islam from Bangladesh, the long blockade of Melbourne in 2020 gave her the opportunity to reconnect with photography.A self-taught artist, Mysha has been devoted to her work and family life as an elementary school teacher since moving to Hampton Park, Victoria in 2013.

“It was my dad who first gave me a camera,” she says. “I have been so busy, as a first-generation migrant, everything was overwhelming. But with the pandemic, I took a break from life and was able to hold a camera and start again. It was like having my own space.”

Mysha Islam’s family has become her art.“I don’t think there are many platforms where you can express yourself as an artist as a Muslim, but this exhibition has given me the courage to come out and show the world what I have created.”

Exhibiting the work is important for the award-winning artist Killeen.“I feel like I’m holding my friend on my shoulder and telling him what’s going on. It feels like someone is listening to you,” she says.

It is also economically useful.“For about two years since my last exhibition, I haven’t had the opportunity to sell my work because of COVID. I can help my family with this.”Within hours, it’s time to call Agadir, Morocco, and start giving good news to her family.

Killeen’s award-winning works and the works of the other 16 finalists will be on display online at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, and will be on public display for in-person visits outside of COVID-19 lockdowns. The sponsor La Trobe University will also have the artwork available to view online to anyone in Australia and around the world.

[Fatima Killeen]

Crooked Narrative, a collagraph print showing fused pomegranates and grenades, is part of Killeen’s ongoing work on human rights, conflict and migration.