Zarah David — the epitome of meaningful art

Zarah’s humble home is rich and vibrant by the presence of the art work it holds.

Momina Sibtain February 05, 2014
Daughter of the iconic Anna Molka Ahmed and wife of master painter Colin David, Zarah is practically royalty of the Pakistani art world. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY


It might surprise you sometimes to know how much someone’s home can tell you about them. You can know people personally or professionally for years and not know the real them, until you see where they live. Zarah David is one such person. Full of life and optimism to the world, Zarah conceals herself within her art.

Zarah’s humble home is rich and vibrant by the presence of the art work it holds. With canvases stacked in every corner of the house, it is the most fascinating house in Lahore indeed. Her work depicts her experience with her estranged mother, divorced husband who was her best friend till the day he died, and her relationship with God.

“Allah has been by my side throughout my life, after my mother threw me out of the house for wanting to marry Colin, I thought life had come to an end, but God was there by my side,” she says.

Zarah stayed at the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) for six months until she got married in November 1965. “Even though I was a Muslim, the YWCA let me stay there,” she says.

Zarah’s art reflects upon her feelings, not only about herself, but also about the world around her. Fascinated by the idea of reunion, her work shows a deep longing to be reunited with her mother and husband in the hereafter. “I was blessed with fantastic friends throughout my life,” continues Zarah, “even though Colin and I were divorced we remained great friends till the end and it is because of the support of my friends that I made through life.” For Zarah, God revealed himself in the form of people, to help her carry on.

Having had to work around seven jobs at one time to make ends meet may drive one to the point of  insanity or may cause them to lose hope, but even at the age of 70, Zarah continues to work at five different schools during the day time and look after Color Gallery in the evening. “I find time on Saturdays and Sundays to paint and that is when I lose myself in my art.”

From her monochrome pieces of art to the vibrant ones, there is a unique quality in her work. She successfully draws her audience not only into her art, but also into her life. There are over 200 canvases being housed in her home in DHA Lahore, and they are all tiny windows into the mind, heart and life of Zarah David.

Even in her most painful moments, she finds beauty and optimism to carry on and do more. “I’m dying to do more things,” expresses Zarah as she wells up, “I love teaching special children and there is so much more I want to do with my music, but there just isn’t enough time. And now even my health doesn’t allow that much.”

While her work depicts her memories, musings, thoughts, hopes, desires, dreams and her brazen reality, Zarah hides nothing when it comes to her paintings. One can easily get lost in her work — it’s almost like having a conversation with her soul and life.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2014.

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Iram qazi | 7 years ago | Reply

It was a pleasure to read such a personal account of Zarah's life and work. I know her and marvel at her energy, spirit, sincerity and warmth. There is never ever a hint of self pity or depression in her conversation. In fact her presence inspires everyone in different ways. And, this is reflected in her paintings, her vibrant personality and her positive attitude and of course her expertise in her craft.

Parvez | 7 years ago | Reply

Great stuff........I had no idea she was Anna Molka's daughter.

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