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February 27, 2017

Pakistan Chowk comes alive with art fair


February 27, 2017

Two months ago no one would have even thought of passing by the Pakistan Chowk, in the Old City area, let alone attend an art exhibit. But since its rehabilitation in December, the Chowk is slowly becoming a centre for young artists to gather and experiment with art.

With sheds placed around the Chowk, on Sunday artists from across the city put up their work at a space designated as a gallery for visitors attending the Pakistan Chowk Art Fair.

The fair was organised under the Pakistan Chowk initiative which aims to restore old areas of the city through various art activities, including art classes.

Tehmeena Anwer, a student of Fine Arts who also lives across the Chowk said the place has become a hub for emerging artists irrespective of whether they are pursuing arts or not: “This was a wasted space since nobody could even think of walking past it owing to the strong stench, also since the area had an ineffective garbage collection system many people would just throw their litter here. However, now students, young people from all places including reputed art institutions join us as we all paint and draw together.”

In another corner, many huddled close to an artist as he lightly moved a pencil on the sheet to demonstrate how to lighten the surface of a drawing - his own drawings of balconies of old buildings displayed on the husk shed.

Visitors Farhan and Shumaila, who also live in the vicinity, said they too have started coming to the Chowk ever since it has been revamped.

“Considering the previous state of this place, it’s unbelievable that it is becoming a spot for us to just sit around as many times we bring mats to sit and sip tea while our children play near us,” said Shumaila.

Hailing from Panjgur, two artists Hafeez Gohar Jee and Hidayat Ullah explained that they started visiting the Chowk after they were told about the weekly arrangement.

“I teach fine arts at Balochistan Art School and come to the city for three months before I head back; I think it’s appreciable that such places are being used to promote art because it’s the need of the hour,” Gohar said.

While some people were pursuing arts, Akash, a student of grade 9th sat in a corner to draw a deity while his uncle Prakash drew a bride carried by two men in a palki – a Mughal-era carriage used to carry brides or other important officials from one place to the other.

Heritage consultant and architect Marvi Mazhar, who has been associated with the project, said the basic idea of making a public space into an art gallery was to show that artists who can’t display works in galleries can freely work and showcase their pieces here. She added that such steps could definitely enable people to finally reclaim public spaces.

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