Own your city: When Newton cradles Danda Doli, Karachi overviews its effects

Published: April 13, 2015
Frere Hall hosts Numaish Karachi - the works of nearly two dozen artists aimed at creating a positive urban space for the people of the city. PHOTOS PHOTOS: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

Frere Hall hosts Numaish Karachi - the works of nearly two dozen artists aimed at creating a positive urban space for the people of the city. PHOTOS PHOTOS: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS


 The lawns of Frere Hall light up in multiple colours every night as the otherwise quiet venue hosts Numaish Karachi till April 22. The exhibition is a collection of installations by over two dozen, local designers, artists, scientists and engineers who aim to bring back public spaces to Karachi where people of all age groups can participate. The Express Tribune speaks to some of the artists and their installations below.


The classic Ludo game has been given a new twist at Numaish Karachi. A large 8×8 board with 80 points marked in Urdu has been placed in the middle of the lawn. The players can hop from one score point to another. Sana Rizwan Gondal introduced the concept as part of her first-year project at Habib University. The ever-popular game played by all age groups has been given a local flavour as she has made the snakes out of dupattas and the board made of Rexine fabric. “The project’s aim was to bring out a social message in a light, happy way,” said Sana. “It’s the one board game that is played by both the young and the old.”


The three science installations at Numaish Karachi, titled The Newton’s Cradle, the Pendulum Wave and the Sand Pendulum, are attracting curious children and adults. A joint effort of Dr Anzar Sheikh and Nadeem Afzal, The Newton’s Cradle explains the basic concept of energy in science in a creative manner. Five identical steel balls, each of 3.5kg, show how energy is conserved and transferred. Children can be seen crowding around the bench, watching in fascination as they pull back one of the balls and release it to find the motion reflected in the other balls as well. “Kids may not understand the underlying scientific concept of the transfer of kinetic energy from one ball to another but they will discover a pattern of the movement,” explained Dr Sheikh.


Artist Tehmina Maknojia has come up with the thought of an interactive play area for children. For this, she has set up swings for children incorporating the concept of Phugadi and Danda Doli, playful acts from the childhood that all kids are familiar with. “Swings are big toys for me,” she said. “My idea of art is to make something functional and practical and not simply restricted to the walls.” By using iron pipe, bearing, iron sheet and enamel paints as her basic elements, the artist has attempted to return the lost hustle bustle of parks. “During my entire week in here, the kids have told me they come all the way from Sultanabad for these swings,” she shared. “It’s clear this is what the kids want and they don’t mind going to far-off places for them.”


The Rangoli has been created out of vibrant, neon colours by artists Javairia M Rafiq and Saima Zaidi. The two artists have introduced these celebratory and happy patterns around the fountain in the Frere Hall gardens.

Traditionally, Rangoli patterns have been created in the subcontinent by women at entrances and open floorings. Dyes, flour and coloured grains are used to bring the vibrant and homely effect to it. “The idea was to bring maximum space involvement of people in here,” said Rafiq. “These colours though very bright produce a relaxing effect. Especially at night, the ambience is a scene to behold.”


The star of this exhibition that makes Frere Hall glow at night is the light installations, Overview Karachi Effect. Yasir Husain has reproduced the experience of astronauts in space as they revolve the earth.  Relating the concept to Karachi, he said that the centralised sun’s energy supports life on earth and, in that spiritual moment, all boundaries, differences and conflicts disappear and the earth appears unified, tied by the powers of the sun. “I have used solar panels, barbed razor wires and LED light,” he explained. “As night comes, the LED lights tend to brighten up and it spreads to the other end of the garden area,” said Husain, adding that his installation is literally an overview of Karachi more than anything else.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2015. 

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