Shireen Taweel wins the 68th Blake Art Prize

Congratulations to Shireen Taweel, who has won the 68th Blake Art Prize for her work Shoe Bathers, a sensory installation designed to conjure the experience of a hammam—an Islamic public bathing house.

Taweel is a Sydney-based Lebanese-Australian artist working on Gadigal Land. Her multidisciplinary practice often involves site-specific and sensorially focused works that explore cultural heritage, identity and “the diasporic landscape”. Shoe Bathersconsists of timber packing crates stacked with hand-made olive oil soap bars and two pairs of copper sculptures reminiscent of bathing shoes. The installation is designed with a fragrant ambience that recreates that sensory nature of bathing rituals.

Shireen Taweel, Shoe Bathers, 2022. Installation shot at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, winner 68th Blake Prize. Photography: silversalt photography.

“The impressive and eloquent installation invites us to consider the ritual of bathing and the civic and spiritual function of the hammam for communities throughout the Islamic world,” say the judges of the winning piece. “The work exhibits a high calibre of craftsmanship in its revival and application of traditional hand-pierced coppersmith techniques. At the same time, handmade olive oil soap crafted over many months conjures poetic associations between the body, its physical imprint in the world and its spiritual ties to others. Shireen’s work demonstrates a deep sense of intimacy experienced by individuals and communities: it places bodies in a space of sacredness and evokes personal, spiritual, and cultural interrelations.”

The Blake Prize was established in 1951 and is one of Australia’s longest standing art prizes. The prestigious award is offered to local and international contemporary artists who explore spirituality and religion. Taweel receives a cash prize of $35,000 for the winning entry Shoe Bathers.

The 68th Blake Prize exhibition is on display at Casula Powerhouse until 7 July.

News Words by Art Guide Australia