A collaborative exhibition between AAN Gandhara Art Space and the Murree Museum Residency, co-curated by Saba Khan and Seher Naveed, ‘From The Hills to The Sea’ opened on December 13th, 2018.
Madyha Leghari’s archival inkjet prints look like a gradation of ochers and browns, but upon closer inspection are revealed to be found images of blank pages from withered, old books, bearing the crevices and faded colours of passed time.
Naazish Atuallah’s diary in its seemingly original state is framed up on the wall, sentences like ‘sound of rain on sloping tin roofs clouds descending mists gently settling’ manage to create a vivid visual dialogue, transporting the viewer into the artist’s position.
Similarly, Salima Hashmi’s ‘Notes from Murree’ depicts mixed media drawings uses notes like ‘Muree Residency? Does proximity change artists as human beings?’ which raises the question of exactly how much an artist’s surroundings influence their perception and reaction to the space they inhabit.
Veera Rustomjee’s panoramic orientation of her pastel drawing on brown paper presents blue water tanks piled on top of each other, overlooking what seems to be a house in Murree. Rustomjee’s repetition of the water tank emphasizes the kind of basic everyday rituals that differ from life in a large metropolis and a small town in the mountains.
Sarah Mumtaz’s embroidery on cloth depicts whimsical imagery of a typical countryside with children and animals in various scales and proportions stitched together. Mumtaz continues the childlike imagery in her ballpoint illustrations, displayed in a fold-out sheet.
Korean artist Hyun Ju Kim also makes use of fantasy-inspired imagery, using mix media and prints to depict flamboyant imaginings. Kim also uses fold-out sheets for his ‘Genesis’ collage piece, depicting the biblical 7 days of creation in a children’s storybook-like setting.
Seher Naveed’s drawing pieces and etching prints make use of Murree’s imagery by depicting houses with brick walls and sloping roofs, which are structural elements that are not commonly found in suburban Pakistani settings.
Japanese artist Hiroshi Tachibana presents a ‘Colouring Book for Space Out’. Bearing a resemblance to floor plans of an infrastructure, breaking up physical space into 2-dimentional geometric forms while attaching personal sentiments with each, using titles like ‘Moment’, ‘Happiness’, ‘Silence’ and so on.
Natasha Malik looks at the scenic imagery of Murree in the form of Polaroid prints, relying on the instantaneity of each moment experienced. She also presents mixed media drawings of water colour on paper.
Asif Khan photographic prints move away from the scenic imagery of nature that is generally associated with Murree, and instead displays it from a more urban, industrialized view-point. His other print ‘Asheyana-e-Quiad’ is a panoramic photograph of a construction space for a housing scheme in Lahore, again looking at the precursor effects of urbanization on a landscape.
Zahra Malkani’s 11-part digital prints use monochromatic imagery, with Urdu text describing the story of a dream. The dream talks about looking for a river that no longer exists, and all that is left is a grain of salt remnant of the river. The eerie pieces perhaps look at the existence of nature within us, but also of how it is being wiped out with time.
Seema Nusrat and Seher Naveed collaborate on a metal piece titled ‘Aerial plan’, depicting what looks to be an aerial view of a house in Murree with a slanted roof. Nusrat also looks at metal contours of a ‘Colony’, using aerial plans of reminiscent of blueprints.
Pradeep’s mix media piece makes use of emptied and flattened out bags of cement, hardening it and hanging on the wall. From a distance, the bags of cement also resemble an aerial plan of a house or building.
Suleman Khilji’s untitled soil series immortalizes the Murree space by incorporating soil into his paintings ‘Dust from Murree’. Khilji also gives physicality to a narrative in the form of a worn out book.
Also working with the medium of a book, Ayesha Jatoi presents a humorous miniature painting within the book, using a collage of text on paper and cut up bank cards.
Usman Saeed’s small-scale drawings present plants and vegetation. Titled ‘Gardenfinds’ and ‘Birdsong’, his work relies on capturing outdoor items in textile-like patterns, both in monochrome and colour.
Sophia Mairaj’s fold-out sheet collects dried flowers on paper, mixed with graphite and water colour. Mairaj also makes a book out of handmade paper, titled ‘The Realm of Erebus’, with pen and ink drawings.
Shahana Rajani’s digital prints use satellite imagery found on Google Maps, pointing out locations, routes and targets. Text underneath reads out statements like ‘Informational leaflets dropped by US aircrafts. They read: We can see everything.’ The work narrates and satirizes the nature of surveillance that exists in any modern space.
Rabeya Jalil explores different variations of colour in a set of 9 vivid acrylic on board pieces. She then explores colour purely through text, personifying them with titles like ‘birth red’, ‘tiger orange’, ‘death pink’ and so on without requiring any visual imagery.
Madiha Aijaz’s video uses visuals of a house under construction, with rain and fog aiding to the Murree narrative. The video also implements sound through interviews of people speaking about their personal struggles with displacement and urbanization.
Omer Wasim’s archival prints on wood look at images captured of the Murree forest. Wasim’s work juxtaposes concepts of growth in nature and the human body, also hinting on issues of sexuality amidst biological growth.
Amna Hashmi’s book of illustrations uses the medium of retro role-play games to capture histories attached to each space in the form of storytelling.
Fatima Hussain and Ayesha Kamal Khan collaborate on a booklet titled ‘Drawing Dictionary: A-Z’ with a cover by Jazib Jacob. The book series compiles generic terminologies used by art students and teachers when learning the basics of drawing.
The physical and tangible experiences that an artist faces in their immediate surroundings are often integrated into their visual vocabulary and general body of work. The illustrious Murree Museum Residency allows artists to step out of their familiar surroundings to not only look at their existence within natural space, but to also achieve a new perspective of how they inhabit their physical surroundings in general.