Azaranica is a non-biased news aggregator on Hazaras. The main aim is to promote understanding and respect for cultural identities by highlighting the realities they face on daily basis...Hazaras have been the victim of active persecution and discrimination and one of the reasons among many has been the lack of information, awareness, and disinformation.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Keeping the Flame of Art Alive in Balochistan

The Crowd: By Shazia Batool
Shazia Batool’s conversations – about Quetta, about the worsening situation and the burgeoning art scene – are filled with dramatic gasps and sharp intakes of breath but beneath her excitable exterior lies a steely resolve. This is evident in the stories she chooses to tell: How she wheeled herself into Quetta’s Serena Hotel and insisted that its managers let her exhibit her paintings; how, as a physically-handicapped person, she manages to live in an environment not exactly friendly to the disabled, how she migrated to neighbouring Iran with her mother but, after living there for two years, decided to return alone and resume her life in Quetta..............The Hazara community has its own initiatives. On the day I meet and speak with Batool, I visit one such community space. Amongst the mass of homes and shops and restaurants in crowded Mariabad, is a seemingly unassuming door with a small plaque that says, in a near-silent whisper, Sketch Club. The ‘club’ was started in 2008 by Fazil Mousavi, a respected elder of the community. For the very low fee of 1,000 rupees a month for each student, on the rooftop of a katcha house and surrounded by the panoramic view of mountains, local children are taught art. Some are being rigorously trained to sit the entrance exam for the NCA; others are much younger. I strike up conversation with a chirpy hijab-clad seven-year-old. Another young girl tells me how she protested to her family until they allowed her to start drawing. Yet another wants to go to Lahore and study miniature. As the sun starts making its lazy descent down the sky and the blinding light creates dark shadows, students sit around a still-life and studiously sketch. At the end of each year, the Sketch Club holds a student exhibition where the works are put up for sale. Mousavi believes that art should be accessible to all and the art pieces are thus priced accordingly — much of it ends up being bought. There used to be a local art gallery in Mariabad, a teacher at the Sketch Club tells me, but its owner shut shop and migrated to Australia.....Continue Reading.... 

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