24 December, 2010

Art and Nature in harmony

Book launch, exhibition of sculptures

Sana Jamal
Book cover.

Artist and writer Fauzia Minallah’s new book ‘Chitarkari and Banyans – The Pursuit of Identity’ highlights the need to preserve our natural environment and to promote national art and culture. In her book, Fauzia bring to light the fading art of slate engraving or ‘Chitarkari’ and also emphasized on the preservation of old banyan trees in the capital city which is under serious threat now.

“I have childhood memories of playing in the cemeteries of my parents’ village Sirikot in the Gangar hills, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. By 1990 it was at the verge of extinction but I helped craftsmen find new market for this craft by designing different furniture items and promoted its respect among the villagers,” she said explaining her profound interest in environment. Survival of the rich folk heritage was her mission, said the author.
The book launching and exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Fauzia Minallah were organized by Sungi Development Foundation at National Art Gallery.

Fauzia Minallah at the launch
of her book.
Fauzia Minallah had been inspired by a range of cultural experiences. “I love art – even more now that I see vanishing both in art galleries and the art of nature.”

Chitarkari and Banyans included nature and landscape images of fast disappearing sites on the fringes of Islamabad – places threatened by development that had moved her for one reason or another.

The book launch was complemented by an exhibition of her paintings and display of slate carving in one of the gallery‘s exhibition halls. From the ‘Woman‘s Tombstone‘ carved in 1992 to the series ‘Buddha Still Lives in Pakistan‘ executed in 2010, the work on displayed explain different stages.

There were some Chitarkari pieces titled ‘Tribute to Indu Mitha‘ done in 2005 to pay respect to the veteran classical dancer who despite all odds had kept the beautiful art form of classical music alive. ‘Meditative Strokes‘ was the series that reflected the artist‘s helplessness she felt as nature and history were being destroyed in the process of urban expansion and religious fanaticism in the city.

Having learnt the traditional techniques, Fauzia combined them with her knowledge of design, drawing and composition to produce some unique work. The symbols threw interesting light on the beliefs, culture, material resources and other salient features of the society. With simple tools like a chisel, hummer and ‘parkar’ (divider) she carved items with precision and exactness.

Environmentalist Isa Daudpota believed that the book reflected an activist‘s impulse. “It reflects the deep passion for art and nature and pursuit of identity,” he said.