Letter from the Editor


Letter from the Editor

  I remember once traveling in a rickshaw in Lahore. It was late night, hence deserted roads, so the driver initiated a conversation, by askin

Fabric – My Art World


I remember once traveling in a rickshaw in Lahore. It was late night, hence deserted roads, so the driver initiated a conversation, by asking the size of my hands. Shocked; but I replied, and he also turned around and showed his hands, saying ‘look, all of us have hands of almost same scale, but these small objects have made huge things. Roads, trains, ships, aeroplanes, skyscrapers etc.’


That brief encounter with a person who never went to school made me realize the power and potential of our hands, especially when these are utilised to construct objects of either extreme beauty, pure functionality or of historic significance. Employing our hands to write books that last longer than authors, create artwork that mesmerises generations, shape utensils, weave fabrics, mould metals, which are used at multiple places and purposes.


One of the most common and familiar example in this regard is ceramic pieces, found in every society for numerous needs. Perhaps the earliest example of a ceramic pieces, the basic bowl for drinking water, derived its form through two hands joined to collect/contain water. But from that beginning, the art of ceramics evolved into separate directions and dimensions – Chinese bronzes, Greek vases, Mesoamerican limestone ceramics, African terracotta, stone vessels of Egypt, blue pottery from Iran and Central Asia, till our present-day porcelain and stoneware, let’s say of two practitioners: Grayson Perry and Salahuddin Mian, artists of two different epochs and sensibilities.


Like them millions around the world are still turning wheels, coiling clay, or setting slabs of soft substance, before these are dried, fired in kiln, and glazed. What emerges out of these endeavours is a long list of how humans have treated, turned and transformed an elementary material and produced works of great merit. Objects that have a function as well as the feeling of sublime. Both embossed in an inseparable manner. In a sense the history of human civilisation is a story of man’s interaction, conversion and conversation with materials around him. His attempts in taming nature. His efforts to incorporate outside in his personal space/usage/necessity.


All that can be witnessed in our houses, offices, markets and museums. We are surrounded by the art of ceramics, may that come from the hands of the master like Salahuddin Mian or a potter working in Sahiwal. In a sense both of these individuals (and many more for that matter) meet, because both are dealing with something as basic as clay.


Art Now Pakistan looks at those hands who have the magic of transforming something as mundane, ordinary, and familiar as clay and modifying it into specimen of high art. The present issue is in praise of those hand, which living or dead, have captured and converted the essence of nature, to make it a work of beauty – that in the words of Keats is a ‘joy for ever’; yet in each new contact there may be a shift in this eternal pleasure. That’s how style evolves and history of art develops. Essays, Profile, Interview and Retrospective examine how the art of ceramics have changed our houses, our minds and our art world. Through those hands, which might have been small, but were able to transform a world – outside of us and inside.


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