The Jhalak Art Residency

About the Jhalak Art Residency

The Jhalak Art Residency was born in 2018 when the best-selling novelist Dorothy Koomson offered to sponsor a unique work of art by an artist of colour to serve as a trophy for the Jhalak Prize. In, 2021 the residency was expanded to an annual commission to an illustrator of colour to create an original work for the new Jhalak Children’s & Young Adult Prize

Since 2019, private donors have sponsored the Jhalak Art Residency comprising annual art commissions granted to UK based artists and illustrators of colour. Each year, selected artists create unique works that addresses the ethos, principles and goals of the Jhalak Prize and serves as the trophy for the year. 

The aim of the residency, as with the Jhalak Prize, is to shine a light on artists of colour in contemporary Britain, to recognise their creative output, and celebrate their works.  

The first trophy, awarded in 2018, was designed by the ceramic artist  Chris Bramble who drew on the decolonising ethos of the prize and created a powerful defiant figure who “stands on our books the colonisers burnt and holds up the stories we continue to create.”

The 2019 trophy was created by artist, activist and writer, Tashmia Owen, who worked in resin to create a piece she titled ‘The Library.’ Battling a life-threatening illness, Owen worked on the sculpture in her kitchen, creating a piece that embodies the creativity, talent, passion and struggle required for creation. 

The pandemic presented some unique challenges for Neda Koochakian Fard. our 2020 artist in residence including difficulties in accessing art materials, studio space and clay casting services. Undaunted, Koochakian Fard created a unique sculpture air drying clay, gold leaf and paint, and titled it “Rebirth.”

The 2021 trophy was created by London artist and designer Amber Khokhar who created a delicate collage drawing on Sufist iconography and layering text by Indian poet Amrita Pritam, paint and liquid 22 carat gold on paper.

In 2022, Romanichal (English Romani Gypsy) artist and illustrator Elijah Vardo created “My Grandmother’s Hands”with gouache, markers, pencil and ink and ink on paper. The work celebrates the long tradition of oral storytelling while also recognising the historic lack of literacy amongst his people and emphasises the importance of holding our pasts and histories in our hands while also sharing these with the wider world. 

From 2020, a second trophy was added to honour the winner of the Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize, to be annually created by an illustrator of colour as they remain woefully represented in children’s publishing. Our inaugural illustrator in residence is Ruthine Burton whose delightful illustration captures the magic of discovering stories and reading communities.

Our C&YA Prize 2022 artist in residence Rikin Parekh drew on his own heritage and love of illustrating animals to create a 'postage stamp' of a Lion from the Gir Forest in Gujarat on a first class stamp. In India, the lion symbolises not only courage but also protection and safety.

The annual Jhalak Art Residency will continue to reach out to artists of colour in Britain to commission unique works in a range of styles and media.

The next Jhalak Art Residents will be announced in early 2023.

​We invite interested artists and potential sponsors to contact us.


About the artist -

Book of the Year Trophy

Elijah Vardo is a Romanichal (English Romani Gypsy) artist and illustrator based in the UK.

Growing up on Gypsy sites across England, Elijah’s art captures the vibrancy of Romani culture with powerful use of colour, poignant composition and a wry sense of humor. His work addresses the personal and the political with verve, nuance and irrepressible joy. As a first-generationsettled Roma, and one of the very few in his family to pursue higher education, Elijah uses his art to represent his people and help inspire other GRT to achieve (what they consider) unachievable.

Elijah Vardo trophy 2022.jpg


About the artist - 

Children’s & YA Trophy

Rikin Parekh is a children’s book illustrator based in North West London. 

He has two art degrees from Camberwell College of Arts and the University of Westminster. His past jobs include working in a primary school and as a film production illustrator on monster movies.. 
Rikin's books include Fly Tiger Fly, Iguana Boy, The Worst Class in the World and This Book Has Alpacas, and Yes You Can, Cow. When he's not drawing you'll probably find him at the cinema or at Comic Con.

Rikin trophy 2022.jpg
Jhalak Prize Artwok by Amber Khokhar.jpg


Book of the Year Trophy

Amber Khokhar is a London artist and designer who has worked as an artist for the last thirty five years and taught art for the last twenty.

She has exhibited widely across the world and executed a formidable array of commissions including the design for a 40 metres by 6 metre carpet for Buckingham Palace and stained glass library ceilings at Dumfries House (Scotland) and interior designs and features of bespoke Rolls Royce Phantom Standard and Phantom Coupe Her design projects include Amnesty International; Joi and Pink Floyd record cover; logo for the Young Designers Centre, Design Centre (London, UK); and three posters for the Act Up mark International Aids Day.

She currently works from her studio in Creekside, Deptford and accepts private commissions

Jhalak C_YA Artwork by Ruthine Burton -


Children’s & YA prize

Ruthine Burton is an artist and illustrator living in London. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Art from Aberystwyth University and is currently a mentee on the Pathways into Children’s Publishing programme (2021). 

Her illustration practise is based on her love of real paper, paint and pastels with a touch of digital thrown in. She likes to work in two distinct ways: colour pencil on paper followed by some digital postproduction or drawing digitally then colouring and texturing using multiple media such as photographs, digitised fabrics and textures. She loves drawing characters and creating fun compositions. She also loves stories and has been developing some for picture books. 

Neda Koochakian Fard - 2020.JPG


Neda Koochakian Fard is a Tehran born, London based conceptual artist. She studied fine arts at the Tehran University and has exhibited widely in Iran and the UK, including the Hampstead School of Arts, Central St. Giles, and the Royal Academy of Art.  She was a featured artist for the Hampstead School’s annual public art exhibition of artistic interpretations of the egg for Easter 2019. 

Upon arriving in London in 2014, Neda was part of an Islington based art and writing class run by writer Sita Brahmachari and author and illustrator Jane Ray who recommended her to the Hampstead School of Art. She continues to be affiliated to the school. 

Neda is currently focused on how technology impacts humanity,  the climate crisis and the impending anthropocene extinction.

Chris Bramble-trophy 2018.jpg


Chris Bramble studied Art and Design at Glasgow School of Art and spent ten years working in the city.  In 1985 he took two years out to go and work in Zimbabwe as the Exhibitions Officer at the National Gallery in Harare. On moving to London in 1989 he set up a studio at Kingsgate Workshops in Kilburn.

Chris creates hand-crafted pots and ceramic sculptures that bring together his interest in the European sculptural tradition and the love of African craftsmanship, shape and form. Sculpted faces and torsos emerge from the wheel-thrown vessels and shapes. Each of his pieces is a meditation, and a spiritual and emotional activity that is shared with everyone. 

Chris runs workshops in schools across London, teaches in colleges and has regular classes at his workshop. 

2019 trophy.jpg


Tashmia Owen is a visual artist, writer, activist and scriptwriter. Owen studied at Central St. Martins and works in various mediums to explore life as a woman of colour in contemporary Britain. She writes on a host of issues and her work has appeared at, Women’s Republic, Media Diversified, gal-dem and more. She can be found at but is more often on twitter: @dancinginshado