KARACHI: The creative canvases and handiworks on display at the Grandeur Gallery have not been prepared by a seasoned artist per se – they are the creations of ‘special’ children who refuse to let their physical disabilities hinder their development. These young artists, using the limited resources at hand, have poured the vibrancy of their thoughts and ideas onto the canvases.
From collages depicting Pakistan’s noted historical structures and monuments to the intricately designed truck-art, these young minds have shown their creative side on the canvases, in the forms of paper-made birds and reflective stickers on tables, trays and photo frames.
Flag (Rs5,000). PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/ EXPRESS
Had these been the creation of a noted artist, the works would have sold at a remarkably high price. At the Grandeur Gallery, however, the children have put up their efforts for sale at affordable prices.
The exhibition was organised by the Special Children’s Educational Institute (SCEI), a non-profit organisation that aims to nurture and provide opportunities to mentally and physically challenged children. It featured works based on the theme, “I am Special and so is my country.”
Balloon wala (Rs8,000). PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/ EXPRESS
“We chose this theme because it relates to the children and our country is special to them,” explained the institute’s principal, Saima Haq, adding that the exhibition was the result of a two-month long effort by the children and their teachers.
Haq went on to say that the exhibition was aimed to create awareness about the special children and their remarkable potential and talents. “If these children are provided with opportunities equivalent to those who are ‘normal’, they have the potential to achieve so much more.”
Cricketer (Rs15,000). PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/ EXPRESS
The pieces are a collaborative effort of the 42 students at the SCEI, with a few original pieces like the Kawaa (crows made with papers) having been done by them independently. “One of the children, who has limited motor abilities did the background with a roller brush, while those with more advanced skills added details to the paintings.” She added that the autistic patients had been provided with stencils to add colour to the canvases with spray paints.
Camel (Rs8,000). PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/ EXPRESS
Zeritta Mavalvala, who volunteered at the institute for a month, told The Express Tribune that she had made the children feel involved by putting a picture in front of the children and making a sketch for them to which they added colour. “Sometimes you have to hold their hands to teach them, but then they learn to do it by themselves. Some children have visual problems and some can’t hold the brush in their hands but they are all quick learners,” she said, adding that she had taken an aptitude test of the children and then planned the classes according to their skills.
Tota (Rs12,000). PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/ EXPRESS
One of the most remarkable features of the exhibition was the rendition of ‘Kabootar Chowrangi’, in which crows and pigeons made out of paper were portrayed eating the feed from clay pots.
Kawaa 2 (Rs 3,000). PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/ EXPRESS
“Some children can’t progress in education after a certain level, which is why we have made a vocational centre where they are employed. We sell the handicrafts made by the children in the vocational centre to gather money and purchase the items required for the arts and crafts,” explained Meher Cowasji, the headmistress of SCEI. The institute is always in dire need of more funds, she lamented.
Gul Mohar (Rs15,000). PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/ EXPRESS
The love these children share for painting, dancing and listening to music is like any other’s. They love attending school and going on outings to Pizza Hut and McDonalds, but they cannot understand abstract things.
They cannot comprehend words like ‘strike’. “We have told them that their school will be closed only on weekends and they fail to understand unplanned closures like strikes,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2013.