Artists find future Picassos in different parts of Karachi
KARACHI: When four artists launched their ‘Bachon se Tabdili’ project, they did not know they will find future Picassos in the narrow streets of the city.
Some of the children were holding paint brushes for the first time but their works reflect their creative minds with near perfection. The artworks of hundreds of grade-five students from different public schools in Nazimabad, Lyari, PECHS, Gulshan-e-Iqbal and Shireen Jinnah Colony are on display at the VM Art Gallery till May 26. The exhibition is open from 11am to 7pm every day except for Sundays.
“Many of the schoolchildren did not know anything about art or stationery like paints and brushes because they were never familiarised with them,” said National College of Arts (NCA) graduate Rabeya Jalil. “Nonetheless, I tried my best to awaken the creative soul within the children.”
Sponsored by the Prince Claus fund for culture and development, the ‘Bachon se Tabdili’ initiative was a collective effort of art critic Shahana Rajani, who also served as the curator at the opening session, and four artists – Rabeya Jalil, Madiha Sikander, Sadia Jamal and Fahim Rao. Rajani initiated the cause by proposing the idea to the sponsors, while the other four went to different schools to find the little artists.
The drawings and paintings were mainly focused on public spaces in the neighbourhoods that the children lived in. Some children had drawn recreational parks, streets and playgrounds. “In a city where violence reigns, children will find public spaces anywhere for the purpose of socialisation,” said Rajani.
Madiha Sikander, another alumnus of NCA, added that she learnt in Lyari that children use mosques as public spaces as well. “They read the Quran and then play in the courtyard of the mosque,” she explained.
“It is widely believed that there is violence in Lyari and nothing else,” Sikander pointed out. “But in the artworks of the Lyari schoolchildren, you will rarely find any violence portrayed.”
Jalil went to the public schools in Shireen Jinnah Colony and introduced the students to art. “Despite everyone telling me to be careful, I went on to raise awareness in the area and was surprised to find how pleasant it was,” she said.
Creativity in art
Explaining the idea behind the project, Sadia Jamal, an alumnus of the Karachi School of Arts, said they wanted to induce the concept of creativity in art among the children.
Jalil said they discouraged children from drawing the average trees and flowers that all children are taught to draw at the basic level. Instead, she encouraged them to be creative, come up with their own ideas, and express them through art. Hence, the artworks included portrayal of day-to-day problems, such as pollution, contaminated water, piles of garbage, mice, thieves, robbers, drug addicts, marine pollution, etc.
“In the beginning it was difficult but, with due time and encouragement, the children learned to use their own minds and expressed their problems in their drawings,” said Rabeya, with a sense of accomplishment.
“The teachers insisted on ‘teaching’ art to the children,” said Arts Council Institute of Arts graduate Fahim Rao, while explaining the problems he faced with the teachers of the schools in PECHS that were his target. “They were unable to grasp the concept of creativity and let the children think for themselves.”
Renowned artist and VM Art Gallery director Riffat Alvi was content with the response they received at the exhibition. “Never in my career have I seen such an overwhelming turnout of visitors,” she claimed, beaming with pride. Moreover, she applauded the endeavours of the team for bringing out the “future Picassos”.