Ceramics work put on display
ISLAMABAD, May 22: Clay chose Sheherezade Alam so that the earth could dance in her hands. And in her exhibition at the National Art Gallery, both ancient and contemporary traditions are embedded in the vessels formed by those hands.
“These pots relocate, reflect and preserve the continuity of the disappearing,” said Sheherezade, standing in a gallery full of some 200 pots of cast out and patterned white earthenware, high and mid fire stoneware and the Raku technique, that was probably most of the eye-catching decorations.
The collection spans over two decades of works – from 1985 to 2011 – and reflects on the artist’s evolution through experiences in different countries where she had been staying and working.
“In the prolific career of Sheherezade, the potter, can be traced a significant contribution to the field of ceramics in Pakistan. From the ‘brown pot’ to the sophisticated glazed vessel, she has helped herald the beginning of the end to the prejudice against craft,” said art critic Niilofur Farrukh.
Another art critic described the works by saying: “The spirit of abundance is at work in her engagement in her craft.”
Burnt at hundreds of degrees, each pot carries a unique personality of clay.
The results are rich textured and deep hues of brown, dark green and firry red colours literally sit like jewels along the walls on wooden shelves.
Many of her pieces in the exhibition titled “I am the vessel, I am the vessel maker, I am the clay of the vessel”, show fire-marks like swirling mists left by the flames. And the pieces appear to be integral parts of the clay rather than separate objects made from it. To show the unique clay texture, she incorporates seemingly refined edges in her designs as well as exposes the rough clay body. Despite the high level of sophistication and innovation, Sheherezade’s works maintain a strong connection with the ancient traditions of pottery of the land.
Sitting on the steps beside a collection of clay of decorations that seemed to carry historical significance, Sheherezade had also brought together Harappa figurines and clay decorations from Saidpur village to encourage local potters.
She admired the Harappan pottery practices even of the present days.
“But I particularly respect the potters in the Saidpur village. They have this unique technique of melting and merging steel wires into clay to attach decorations and embellish the final product,” she said, lamenting that pottery practices in Saidpur had almost gone extinct.
She described the dying tradition of the village as a significant loss and urged people to encourage artists for their survival.
The 207 clay and ceramic vessels will be on display till June 24.