Reel on hai

July 25, 2016

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The prototype of Karachi Biennale Trust’s public project with calligraphic work at the OPP headquarters.—White Star
The prototype of Karachi Biennale Trust’s public project with calligraphic work at the OPP headquarters.—White Star

KARACHI: It may be just a large wooden cable reel for some, but for the creative minds at Karachi Biennale Trust is so much more than that.

Surrounded by greenery in the middle of the little lawn at the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) head office’s somewhat circular parking stands the very first prototype of Karachi Biennale’s public project ‘Reel on Hai.’

Young artist Abdullah, or Sanki King as he is popularly known among the followers of his work, is busy drawing the Urdu letters in dark-green colour on it after having given it a lighter green base.

“I have my own style of calligraphy. Writing the words, I don’t write like the regular Urdu script is written. I break it into letters which I draw separately. The letters are not joined together I mean,” says the artist, who has not studied art as such but has been creating art for eight to nine years now.

On one disc of this very first reel of the project Abdullah has painted a verse by the founder of OPP Dr Akhtar Hameed Khan: ‘Hazaaron sheher basaaey hain badshaho nay/Abb aik sheher g­hareebon ­ko bhi basaanay do / Kabhi khab-i-gham-i-dunya ­ko bhool jaane do … [There are many cities built for kings/ Why not one for the poor as well/ So that we, too, can forget about the sorrows of the world even if it is for a while]’.

And the other side carries Abdul Sattar Edhi’s quote: ‘Sirf alfaaz aur taweel duaen Khuda ko mutasir nahin karteen. Apne aamaal se apna eeman zahir karo. [Just words and prayers don’t impress God. Show your good intentions through your actions.]’

The cable reel was specifically chosen by Karachi Biennale as it happens to be a symbol Karachi’s industry. To turn them into works of art they have invited artists, designers and architects to submit proposals and join them to unleash their creativity by thinking up new ways of using the reels to be put on display all over the city.

Sharing more about their ‘Reel on Hai’ project with Dawn, Nasheed Imran, member of Karachi Biennale Trust’s public outreach committee, said they were thinking about community interaction while getting rid of eyesores when thinking up the project. “These reels we acquired from Pakistan Cables, our main activity partner. They are not reused by the cable companies so we thought up a creative way of using them to beautify the city. Besides that our aim is also to evoke questions in people’s minds when coming across these recycled pieces of art,” she said, adding that the second such reel was placed at the St Patrick’s Cathedral, where another artist was busy working on it.

Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2016