‘Naqsh o Nigar’ provides platform to emerging Kashmir artists, craftsmen

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Srinagar, January 18: From showcasing Kashmir’s traditional crafts to innovative artistic expressions, an ongoing ‘Naqsh o Nigar’ exhibition has emerged as a platform for budding artists of the Valley.

Organised by the Department of Handicrafts and Handloom, Kashmir in collaboration with Educational Revival through Arts and Aesthetics (EdRAAK), the exhibition started on January 12 and is scheduled to conclude on Saturday. 

Saima Farooq, a self taught papier maché artist from Jogi-Lanker Rainawari area of the old city, said she was displaying her products for the first time.

“Though I am pursuing a Masters in Clinical Psychology, I was always interested in arts and crafts. As I am from Shehr-e-Khaas where all the craftsmen live, I also developed an interest in handicrafts. I am a self-taught artist and my works are a fusion of papier maché naqashi, Persian art and Arabic calligraphy. I have a page on Instagram where I take orders but I am attending this exhibition to showcase my work for the first time ever,” Saima told The Kashmir Monitor.

She said exhibiting her works at the ‘Naqsh o Nigar’ exhibition was a learning experience.

“We generally do not get many platforms to showcase our works and exhibiting my products at this exhibition has been a learning experience. During the exhibition, we got an opportunity to interact with award winning artists and master-craftsmen and I learned a lot from them. I will definitely incorporate their suggestions in my future works,” said Saima.

EdRAAK founder S Iliyas Rizvi, who organized and curated the exhibition, said the exhibition also showcased several innovative works.

“Though works of Kashmir’s master-craftsmen including Mohammad Maqbool Jan (papier maché) and Mohammad Aslam Bhat (copper) are on display as well, I am glad that the exhibition is providing a platform to the young and budding artists of Kashmir. In fact, around 30 participants are displaying varied arts and crafts. There are students doing MBA in Crafts, students of Craft Development Institute, Bagh-i-Ali Mardan Khan and also from NIFT, Srinagar,” Rizvi told The Kashmir Monitor.

He said an innovative product named ‘Tr’e’ crafted by the NIFT students was one of the main attractions of the exhibition. 

“The exhibition is all about Kashmiri craftsmanship, spanning from traditional stone carvings to intricate copperware and the delicate art of papier maché. The juxtaposition of the oldest panels from Imam Bargah Zadibal with new innovations by contemporary craftsmen paints a vivid picture of the evolution and resilience of Kashmir’s rich artistic heritage. However, we are especially excited about our innovative product Tr’e. With the basic concept by NIFT students Abdul Basith and Mrigakshi, the Tr’e was possible with master craftsmanship of Abid’s walnut woodwork and Fayaz’s willow weaving skills. The product being uniques got selected as the product of the year 2024 by the NIFT jury,” he said.

Giving details of the product, Rizvi said: “Tr’e means three in Kashmiri and the product showcases the special artistic work of walnut without using nails and wickerwork. Tr’e is a special chair that can be used at three different angles with an additional transformation into a table.”

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