An education cell has been established at the Lahore Museum to organise regular seminars, lectures and workshops on the arts, history and archaeology of this region, museum officials said.
Kanwal Khalid, who was recently appointed to look after the museum’s painting gallery, will also head the education cell. She said that the museum would hold at least one seminar, lecture or workshop every month.
“The museum lies in the heart of Lahore,” Khalid told a room packed with artists, students and journalists ahead of a lecture by painter Aslam Kamal on Tuesday. “Within a radius of half a mile there are prestigious institutes … such as the Punjab Public Library, the Allama Iqbal campus of Punjab University, the National College of Arts and Government College University,” she said, adding that their students would benefit from the cell.
She said that the new deputy director of the museum had made the decision to open an education cell. He did not attend the lecture at the museum.
Iqbal and Faiz
Kamal, who is known for his illustrations of the poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Allama Iqbal, spoke of his encounters with their poetry in childhood. He said it took him a long time to get to grips with them.
“It took Abdul Rahman Chugtai 34 years, from 1929 to 1963, to understand and translate the finest of Ghalib’s and Iqbal’s poetry onto canvas. And it took me nearly the same time, between 1977 and 2011, to draw Iqbal and Faiz, two of my favourites,” he said.
He then spoke about his process for illustrating poems. He put up nine of his paintings on the projector and shared various anecdotes about how he translated verse into art. “I once drew Iqbal amidst a starry sky. It was in reference to a verse which read Iqbal as sitting alone, deep in his thoughts, under the sky.
“I felt as if it was incomplete but without giving it much thought, went to bed, only to be woken up later by this mysterious, vivid dream where Iqbal hands me a copy of Zarbe Kaleem. I got up and opened my personal copy to the page where I read the verse I had painted earlier.
“As I read the verses of the poem after the verse specifying Iqbal’s position, I realised it had a different meaning altogether. The dream has a great significance for me and since then I have become more careful. I try and capture every meticulous detail there is to a poem,” he said.
Students from the nearby Punjab University began streaming into the lecture when Aslam started talking about Faiz. Several Faiz fans would repeat after Kamal as he recited the verses that he had illustrated. He repeatedly referred to Faiz’s use of ‘murderer’ and ‘love’. “He changed the meanings with his poetry, especially the poems written during his time in prison and exile,” Kamal said.
Museum director Humaira Alam and historian Saifur Rahman Dar also attended the lecture.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2011.