Tasteful tribute: Revisiting traditional aesthetics

Humorous and heart-warming displays present contemporary twist on age-old motifs.

Beautifully crafted artefacts embellished with cultural motifs from the subcontinent on display. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS


Striking pieces of arts and crafts beckoned to enthusiasts at the day-long open-house titled “True Colours”.

Held at the artisan couple Zaman and Dorothy’s residence on Saturday morning, the ensemble included prints, paintings, drawings, wearable art, jewellery and objects d’art. A total of 14 artists and artisans presented their work at the showcase. Artistically displayed pieces lined the driveway and the garden of the house, leaving adequate space for people to navigate from one stall to the next, or to linger admiringly around the object of their desire.

Zaman explained that the venture was a casual gathering of like-minded friends from the capital city, Lahore, Karachi and Taxila, intended to display their labour of love, with special focus on contemporary craft. He has been hosting similar shows biannually in spring and autumn for about two years now.

Zaman’s expertise lies in crafting candle stands, lamp bases and lanterns. The fare on display included candle stands made out of digitally-printed paper on plexiglas with a coat of lacquer, and hand-coloured shades.

Ilona Yusuf’s collection of photo-etching prints, wall clocks and lamp shades came in an appealing mix of colours and textures. “The emphasis is on high quality, innovative products,” she said.

Rabbania Shirjeel, a young photographer, exhibited her photo prints. Based in Lahore, she takes a keen interest in traditional subjects, wall-chalking and graffiti- the finished products come through beautifully in both miniature as well as larger prints.

Embodying a knack for the quirky, her brand of art follows signboards and billboards, portraying caricatures of the contradictions within. One of the hand-painted banners in a photograph reads “Itwar bazaar jumayraat ko (Sunday Bazaar on Thursday)”.

Her mother, Rakshanda Atawar, exhibited her collection of charcoal and pastel artworks along with hand-painted stoles, scarves and duppattas in blooming, summery colours.

Next to her stall, the renowned photographer Muhammad Azhar Hafeez unveiled his series of Pakistani souvenirs. “I just realised we don’t have any souvenirs from this part of the world,” he said, talking about his display of mugs, mouse pads, stone plates and coasters etched with some of his famous photographs.

While everyone cannot afford to buy masterpieces of art, he said, the low-cost but high quality products can make affordable souvenirs and presents. The price range for coasters is Rs250 and for mug, Rs750.

Alia Bilgrami showcased etching and photography prints, linocuts and collagraphs while Durre Sameen stood by her display of home accessories sporting truck art on stainless steel.

Saweela Khan exhibited her range of natural skin-care products including soaps, body washes, shampoos, lip balms and mosquito repellents.

Ceramic ware including mirrors, ashtrays and vases by the renowned artist Afshar Malik’s nephew Ghalib was also displayed at the event.

Another stall displayed Muna Siddiqui’s home décor crafts. Starting with traditional motifs, she has transformed them into contemporary pieces, some of which are functional and others purely for viewing pleasure.

Her designs use basic skills such as hand-cut mosaic, sculpted decoupage and hand embroideries, set and presented in functional items by skilled carpenters, tailors, polishers and craftsmen. Recycling ethos is an integral part of her work, in the spirit to make a difference in the community.

Gushing over the gorgeous display, Saira, a buyer at the exhibit said, “This is a fabulous collection of things that you don’t see in the market often,” adding that she had a hard time settling on what to buy. “I thought the prints of signage across Punjab was an interesting glimpse into societal values and pop culture within Pakistan.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2014.


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