Srinagar: If you thought papier-mache products were delicate, try breaking this frame at an ongoing art exhibition titled ‘Mashq-e-Paa’eez: Ishq-e-Nabi’ being held here at the Mahatta Gallery.
And if you are able to break it, the maker of the papier-mache frame, Imtiyaz Ali will pay you Rs. 10,000.
There are several other interesting products like a traditional prayer mat made of reed (‘waguv’) and fascinating paintings of downtown Srinagar of yesteryears on display at the exhibition organized by the Educational Revival through Arts and Aesthetics (EdRAAK).
Apart from displaying art products, the exhibition is especially trying to engage students in creative pursuits of arts and aesthetics.
Papier Mache artist Imtiyaz Ali, who is an instructor at the Women’s College Nawakadal, said he also taught paisley.
“A lot can be done with papier mache. This frame on the wall is very strong and I have kept a prize of Rs. 10,000 for anyone who breaks it. Learning traditional papier-mache takes a lot of time and therefore I teach paisley designs that can be converted into interior designing, mehndi art, shawl making, sketching, etc,” Ali told The Kashmir Monitor.
“So far, around 150 students have learnt this art at the Women’s College Nawakadal as it also enables them to earn,” he added.
Founder of EdRAAK, Dr. Ilyas Rizvi said they aimed to revive art forms in Kashmir and also engage students wishing to pursue arts as a career.
“We at EdRaak for over 10 years now have been trying to engage students in creative pursuits of arts and aesthetics through workshops and exhibitions. We also try to promote forgotten artisans. For example, we have put on display this ‘musallah’ of reed mat by old craftsman GM Guru. There was a time when prayer mats made of reed were common in Kashmir but now makers of ‘waguv’ are in dire straits. Through this installation, we are trying to promote this dying art. Similarly, the paintings of acclaimed artist Iftekhar Ahmad Wani recreate images of old Srinagar city,” Rizvi told The Kashmir Monitor.
“Through our initiatives, several disadvantaged students of the valley have been learning contemporary arts, mystic arts, calligraphy, writing, and several other creative things. We also had special sessions for ladies and children during the present exhibition. People in Kashmir can play a role in reviving dying crafts. For example, if we buy reed praying mats, it will benefit the artisans that are struggling to make ends meet,” he added.
The ‘Mashq-e-Paa’eez: Ishq-e-Nabi’ exhibition started on November 5 and will conclude on Sunday.