July 5, 2012

april this year was a busy time, as i had an exhibition in Karachi. since life as a designer and writer involves a fair amount of work, and printmaking and poetry are my passions rather than my mainstay (i don't want my work to become commercial, although as an artist/writer selling is also important) i had to consciously take time out to finish the set of prints and artists' books that featured in the exhibition.  

here's a link to the gallery's album, which features my mono-prints and books, and Amena's work which featured birthing.

below are some images of the books. 

arizona sunset: accordion format book made up of 
collagraphs, silk thread, silver leaf and poem
arizona sunset, coloured version, medium as above
on memory: a set of mono prints
page 1, side 1 of on memory
side 2 of on memory
on memory, displayed at the art-chowk 
the gallery in april
jalebi: book in triptych form
with collagraph and poem

pakistani poetry in english: the vallum project

the cover of vallum
i haven't really talked about writing in any of my blog posts, so far, aside from including links to some of my articles.

i've been very lucky to have worked on several projects on pakistani poetry over the last few years, from editing to writing essays on pakistani poetry, conducting interviews of poets published in blue chip and newsline, and organising readings. most recently, i've worked on an editorial project with Blaine Marchand, an award winning Canadian poet who was posted in Islamabad for a few years. Blaine was keen to pitch the idea of an anthology of Pakistani poetry to a Canadian poetry journal, and suggested that we work on it together. the proposal was approved and we began work on it in 2010. Originally, we intended to include poetry translated from the vernacular as well as that written in English. but when we drafted a list of potential poets, we realised that just the latter would make a longer than book length collection.

the resulting anthology includes the work of 26 poets, some of whom live in Pakistan and some of whom belong to the diaspora. since funding for the journal comes partly from the Canadian Council for the Arts, it was necessary to represent several poets based in Canada. luckily for the project, perhaps not so lucky for Pakistan, several young poets have recently migrated to Canada, making our task much easier than we anticipated.

the journal went to print at the end of last year and is now available in Canada. the work has been enormously fulfilling, all the more because it was a pleasure to work with my co editor. i enclose the link to his essay on pakistani poetry in english, which is available online, and hope that readers will enjoy it.

Reading Pakistan by Blaine Marchand, Guest Editor (Exclusive Online-Only essay)

follow this link below to hear waqas khwaja reading his poem triptych (featured in vallum). waqas khwaja is also the translation editor of modern poetry of pakistan, an anthology of poetry in the vernacular. 

July 3, 2012

choosing blocks

here are pictures from a rather hot but pleasurable morning, spent choosing antique blocks to be added to my 'library.' i was lucky to have my daughter mehrunnisa with me, to take pictures. 

about blocks: they are carved out of shisham, or rosewood, and range from filgree borders to heavier motifs, both of which are featured in the photographs. traditionally they were used for multiple purposes, from making block printed sheets, table coverings, chaddar, dupatta and suiting materials, to marking out designs for hand embroiderers.

assessing designs, difficult when you
 are faced with a huge box of them!
a filigree block. i enjoy working with blocks that
have an irregular edge, such as this one
my daughter mehrunnisa,
reflected in the mirror in the stairway
shortlisting the blocks
looking at the possibilities for
combining different designs
my final choice
with ghafur khudaybirdigh and nadia in the office at pak turk enterprises
blocks as stored at the block printer's
some of my blocks,
stored rather differently in my studio
one of my favourite filigree blocks

a block printing demo

pinning the cloth to the work surface
measurement and placement:
two very important elements!
checking placement
applying dye to the frame in preparation for printing
applying dye to the block
printing the block: this requires
masking an area to print part of a block rather
than the whole
printing the masked area
the finished print, with line-up
marks still visible