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A Stitch in Time


Stitches only come into being when they experience movement. To move forward in distinctive patterns, time is realized. From exquisite embroidery painstakingly sewn over months, to a hurried, indifferent darn, time is encountered lethargically, in short slippery bursts as well as in a multitude of other ways. It is time that forms the nature of our experiences.


‘A Stitch in Time’, a group show at VM Gallery, brings together four dynamic artists from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. The show forms an intimate space, where each artist weaves her own narrative that spans across space and time. It also recognizes that the distinctive experiences of each artist play a part in forming their respective aesthetic languages.


Maryam Arslan creates delectable self portraits with thick, creamy oil strokes. Her narratives encompass blithe, whimsical fantasies where luscious food items flutter like birds and play secret games. Her wishful daydreams explore a kingdom where gluttony is a cheerful friend and where food possesses its own destiny and may perhaps last forever. This world is made intimate and personal through the artist’s distinctive strokes and gleaming colors.  Arslan’s narrative is experienced in short, sweet gushes as daydreams offer a brief, pleasant interval before collapsing back into reality. Despite that, the essence of her work possesses an element of timelessness as she offers a glimpse into an idyllic realm, unmarred by any temporal occurrences.


Similarly, Shahana Afaq explores food, but in an extremely different context.  Grubby dishes and leftovers rendered in a murky palette form the residue of personal human experiences. There is dismal feel to the work, almost as if a photograph of bright chatter and bustle around a meal has moved forward in time, been discarded and lost its color, grey with age and neglect. The anticlimactic essence of the work creates a contemplative gloom and acts as an indirect portrait through the intimacy of used objects. The presence of time is fleeting as the utter impermanence of the actions that make up our world is realized.


Rabia Ali navigates the realm of memories by studying brain scans and observing the intricacies of memory patterns and mind function. Ali’s research stems from the manner in which emotion and feeling color memories and preserve them subjectively. The context and narrative of each memory is ultimately set in stone, however as they clash with the surrounding sentiments, they become tainted, embellished or warped. Therefore our reminiscences and recollections are affected by imagination and submerged in feeling, the element of time distorted in accordance. Despite the artist’s scientific approach, her work is heavy with vitality and emotion that is relayed though her spirited strokes and dreamlike colors.


Sarah Mir creates dynamic family portraits. The artist employs a unique aesthetic language as she takes religio-cultural constraints into account. The family members experience a comical, exaggerated distortion and despite remaining representational, may just manage to escape the invasive supervision implemented by societal norms. The austerity of culturally relevant family dynamics is also mocked in a frivolous, facetious manner. Time, which is nostalgically preserved in family photographs, comes in conflict with the playful contemporary tone of the work.


The artists provide a glimpse into their personal experiences through their work. While sharing common elements, each artist is extremely different in nature which translates accordingly into their aesthetics. The differing narratives experience and represent time in unique, eccentric manners that ultimately embody the vastness of human experience.



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