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“Aim high and just go for it” | Ithra Art Prize 2019 winner Daniah Al Saleh

Daniah Al Saleh is a Saudi-born London-based contemporary artist and the second winner of the Ithra Art Prize, an initiative by Ithra (The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture) in collaboration with Art Dubai.


Some months after Al Saleh’s artwork, Sawtam, was revealed at the fair in March, and following on from the recent open call announcement for the Ithra Art Prize 2020, she relayed the impact of the Prize win which includes its recent exhibition at St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum.

Ithra Art Prize 2019 winner, Daniah Al Saleh

Daniah, how was your winning commission, Sawtam, received at Art Dubai? Were you surprised by any of the feedback?

It was a truly an amazing experience and the work was well received and exceeded my expectation.  With the excellent organisation of the fair and the high attendance of visitors there were a lot of interest and inquiries about the work, which was quite overwhelming.


Has there been a noticeable impact on your career since the Ithra Art Prize win?

Huge. My name and work has had a lot of exposure, something I did not anticipate at all.

You had the chance, with Ithra, to exhibit Sawtam at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. How was that experience for you?

It was a dream. Although I couldn’t attend the opening, this unique opportunity to exhibit at the prestigious Hermitage Museum as an emerging artist was incredible. And, there was a lot of positive feedback from the museum.


Have you made any changes to your artistic practice in light of recent experiences?

The win gave me the confidence to experiment with different approaches. It’s work in progress, and I’m still investigating different approaches and ideas.

Have you been inspired to extend the part of your practice that is interested in new media and digital work?

Yes, very much so.   I am still studying for my MFA in Computational Art, so how I can integrate computation is a major focus of my work practice.


What is next for you in 2019 and 2020?

I am still doing my masters and will graduate in 2020 and I have a couple of group shows that I will participate in in the coming months. It will be a very busy year.

What advice would you give to any artist in Saudi Arabia thinking of applying for the next edition of the Ithra prize?

Aim high and just go for it – apply! Most importantly, put in the preparation and research for your proposal.

Applications for the Ithra Art Prize 2020 are open until Thursday October 3, 2019. For further information, click here.

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