Tasweer Ghar is an emerging art residency in Lahore that invites all creatives for a unique homely experience. Upon crossing its threshold a visual surprise awaits within every chamber. From a picturesque garden that is transformed into a communal space for various events catering to topics ranging from art therapy, poetry and photography. Artists and hobbyists may come together from various backgrounds to exchange meaningful dialogue.
The residence itself is built in style that crosses the traditional haveli with a Bauhaus finish overall giving the structure a modern feel with a hint of forlorn nostalgia in the evenings. Run by Rabbania Shirjeel, an artist and an enabler for creatives; under the mentorship of Rakhshanda Atawar, formerly the head curator for Gallery 39K for nine years and presently a lecturer at Punjab University.
In essence, residencies are opportunities for artists and creators to get a breathing space away from their daily lives to reevaluate or explore their practices further. It is seen as a time where the artist can reexamine, conduct research, explore and experiment. Sometimes the residencies are funded, with accommodation and a stipend provided for, and other times the artist must pay the bulk of the costs themselves. The Tasweer Ghar Residency proved to be a flexible one, with food and lodging completely accommodated for, the means of production however was meant to be borne by the artists.
Initially it was started as a platform for photographers to exhibit their work three years ago. But with the passage of time, the program evolved along with the themes. This time, the residency was open to visual artists, cross-disciplinary practitioners as well as hobbyists. This year decidedly having no theme, the Tasweer Ghar Residency of 2018 welcomed artists to submit their proposals to continue their on-going research and practices for a duration of a week. The thirteen residents from this year were Ali Shariq, Rao Hassan Nasir, Maha Minhaj, Sabeen Ahsan, Tooba Ashraf, Myra Javaid, Sanya Hussain, Abrar Ahmad, Faizan Adil, Hamza Kashmiri, Aanoosh Fatima, Farheen Zainab and Ume Laila respectively.
Perhaps the most valuable asset the thirteen residents had was the mentorship provided by the curator, Rakhshanda Atawar. Ms. Atawar, in her compelling yet succinct (manner of speaking) guided the artists through various group discussions and one-on-one reviews about the work and the progress which culminated into a group show by the end of the week long residency.
True, one may question as to whether a week is long enough for an artist to research, explore and experiment with his or her practice, but this much rather depends on the thirteen artists who gained something or the other from staying in such close quarters.
Inside every corner in every space the residents languished with ease and perhaps the most important collective experience of all was that of living and creating with fellow artists in the same space, bouncing constructive dialogue on and off of each other about art and ideas – on most days, the second floor resembled nothing but an idyllic space of creators engaging with each other.
From the walls being designed into a grid-like collage of artworks from former students/residents to works of art collected and displayed as part of permanent collection, exhibiting the depth and breadth of its hosts and the experience the residency could provide. Many artists worked with themes pertaining to Self or the idea of self, and many worked with the geo-political and ecological themes pertaining to Lahore, using the city as inspiration for their practices. For some, the residency proved to be a continuation or the extra push required to devoting their sole time to their practice, for some, it was a start of something new and for some, it was the first step into the visual art scene in Pakistan.
The week long residency culminated into a three-day display in which the opening night presented the audience with an interactive, audio-visual mixture of art and music, all locally performed and produced in WAPDA Town at Tasweer Ghar; having transformed a part of the residence into a white cube gallery housing not all the works curated inside, but outside the space as well justifying the content and contexts. All in all the experience as previously mentioned provided by the residency was that of complete freedom and autonomy that artists had over the works produced, which is the most gratifying to say the least, in the experience of every artist.