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The Jhalak Art Residency


About the artist - 

Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize

The Eye of Time and the Buraq – Yousef Saif

This piece is inspired by the ongoing act of remembrance as Palestinians of our history as well as the beauty of the Arabic language. 

I have been thinking a lot about the linguistics of mythological symbols, the language tree, the riddles created by religions and allegory, and the misunderstandings of those myths in the West and elsewhere.

In Arabic every linguistic nuance has weight. 'Filasṭīn', 'Palestine' in Arabic, ends with the word 'tin' which means 'earth'. Interestingly the number 'two' in Arabic is 'Thinin', and 'Dragon'is 'Tinin'.

The Winged Horse is ‘Buraq’ ; Volcano is ‘Burqaan’; Blessing is ‘Baraqa’; Lightning is ‘Baurq’. The Dove is also a timeless symbol in Middle Eastern traditions and its wings exactly echo that of the 'Buraq', guiding the way. In this way one word evokes many and as native speakers we understand the myths as beyond the literal.

In the piece the movement of a family, including the newest generation, is held within a circle, representative of sacred geometries in Arabic art. They are rising out of the rubble, even as they are unshakeably rooted in the land, as if to say ‘we will only rise’.

This piece was first painted in gouache before a digital freehand paint-over. The process was then split by instant printing on canvas, before a further final painting was done quite substantially in gouache on top. Aesthetically for ageing to occur in a natural ideal way no glass was placed over this piece.

The Eye of time and the Buraq by Yusef Saif

Yousef Saif - As an illustrator and artist Yousef has worked in the film Industry and in publishing, and is now creating work for young adults with a debut graphic novel saga on the way. He has also produced editorial art for Arabic newspapers such as Al Quds and continues to be involved in this capacity.

Yousef believes artists do not operate in a void and seeks to use his skill set as an illustrator to target issues that are in need of raised awareness. This is especially true of the environmental crisis and global south and north demographic polarities that are becoming exacerbated around the world.


 In joy and celebration of every culture and cosmology Yousef believes art can also be a gateway to a society not in schism but one of empathy where we learn to live together and foster harmony with the natural world.


About Yousef​


About the artist -

Jhalak Prize

Refaat’s Angel – Samer Abdelnou

For this piece I wanted to honour Refaat Alareer and his legacy. He and I had been communicating in the weeks before his assassination, and it only felt right to dedicate this piece to him. Like millions of people the world over, I am deeply moved by his poem, 'If I must die', and at some point, I realized that I might be working towards materialising a character from it. 

The process involved experimenting with different clay models, and then focusing on shape, level of abstraction and the emotions they might convey. In past works, I formed shapes to my hands and this piece has some of this approach. 

The final clay model was cast in bronze, and the patina chosen to highlight the pain and horror of this genocide with hope and love Refaat gave to his students, his work and to us all.

Refaat’s Angel – Samer Abdelnour
Refaat’s Angel – Samer Abdelnour

Samer Abdelnour is Palestinian, born in Canada and now based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is an academic, activist and artist. 

Samer's art practice began through collaborations with community-based art collectives and artists. He serves on the board of the Embassy Cultural House, a Canadian collective of artists and activists founded by Jamelie Hassan and Ron Benner. 


Samer took the plunge two years ago to start making his own art. He is currently a student of Contemporary Art Practice at the Leith School of Art, Edinburgh and has also learned Concrete Casting at UAL. He first exhibited as part of a collective in June 2023, and will soon screen a short film as part of the Disarming Design Symposium at Kunsthal Gent. A current focus of his practice is figurative / emotive sculptures using clay, concrete and bronze.


His academic research looks at interventions in violent contexts, with much of his fieldwork undertaken in Sudan. Topics include interventions with women in camps around sexual violence and household energy, former fighters enrolled into agricultural cooperatives, and marginalized groups with collective enterprise. He also writes about Palestine and the Palestinian experience, and co-founded the global think tank Al-Shabaka.


Samer's work seeks to convey the political in a way that is deeply personal and human.


Samer can be found at:

X: @SamerAbdelnour

Instagram: @samer_abdelnour

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.

For 2023, the British-Nigerian artist Sharon Adebisi created her work “Blessing” in acrylic on a circular canvas. The strong colours of the piece are key to Adebisi’s work and reinforce the key themes of healing and hope for the future

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. Ruthine Burton created a vivid illustration that drew together origami birds, text, drawing with colour pencil on paper followed by digital postproduction to capture 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. 


Diane Ewen was our 2023 artist in residence. She drew on memories of carnivals, especially that of Notting hill, as well as her own heritage from the Caribbean, to create a digital work that looks forward to a joyful future replete with creativity, dreams and hope.

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.

We invite interested artists and potential sponsors to contact us.

Sharon Adebisi Blessing 1.jpg


About the artist -

Jhalak Prize

Sharon Adebisi is a British-Nigerian artist based in London who creates acrylic on canvas paintings..

Her work for the Jhalak Prize is titled 'Blessing' and has been created with acrylic on a circular canvas. The strong colours reinforce the key themes of healing and hope for the future.

Her works have been exhibited in various locations across the UK, including in OXO Tower Wharf, The Mall Galleries and the V&A Museum. She was a finalist in Glyndebourne Theatre's Tour Art Competition (2019), and has been shortlisted for the Jackson's Painting Prize (2020), Ruth Borchard's Self-Portrait Prize (2021) and ING Discerning Eye (2021). Her debut solo exhibition was held in May 2023 at the Art Hub Studios, London.

Instagram: @artbyadebisi

Diane Ewen.jpg


About the artist - 

Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize

Diane Ewen is British illustrator, based in the West Midlands. 

For the Jhalak Children's & Young Adult Prize trophy, she drew on memories of carnivals, especially that of Nottinghill, as well as her own heritage from the Caribbean. Created digitally, the work looks forward to a joyful future replete with creativity, dreams and hope.

Recent books Diane has illustrated include Never Show a T-Rex a Book, Never Teach a Stegosaurus To Do Sums, Hey You!, and Coming to England. Diane won the Jericho Prize in 2021.

About Diane
Instagram: @creativedewen

Twitter: @creative_dy


About the artist -

Jhalak Prize

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 - 

Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize

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


Jhalak Prize

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

Instagram: @amber_khokhar

Jhalak C_YA Artwork by Ruthine Burton -


Jhalak 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. 

About Ruthine

Instagram: @ruthineburton

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.

Instagram @nedakoochakian

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.

Instagram: @chrisbrambleceramics

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

Instagram: @tashmiaowen

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