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Creating the trees of hope

August 12, 2018

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A versatile visual artist and educationist Meryam Asim was born with a sharp eye and love for beauty. She remembers early days of her childhood in Dubai, replicating the cartoons printed on her geometry box. She was more attracted to colours, art materials and stationery items than toys and she was lucky to learn the fundamentals of image making in a tender age.

“It was the opening of a new world, when I joined an art institute in Dubai. I was in grade seven and the youngest among all the students,” she recalls.

She joined the Rangoonwala Community Centre to learn visual arts and other crafts when her family moved to Karachi.

“I am grateful to Hanif Shehzad who helped a great deal in acquiring the basic skills to handle a variety of mediums. I remained a science student with no formal academic art training but the passion to paint, sculpt and craft work kept me moving and evolving my work. I think art is not something you can gather and learn from the institutions, you always carry it within yourself. All we need is to find the ways and mediums to express,” Meryam believes.

During the late 1990s, she got married and moved to Gujranwala where she established a studio and art institution of her own.

“I have a big house, so dedicated a part of it for my own practice and training young aspirants. At the end of every year, we would display a good number of art works which played a role in changing the perceptions of art in the city. I trained hundreds of students in five years which helped me to refine my own skills and approach towards visual arts,” she claims.

During a visit to the northern areas in 2004 with her family, Meryam decided to set up first school in this area, providing modern education to the locals which became a big financial success.

Meryam Asim
Meryam Asim

“We packed up from Gujranwala and stayed in northern areas for eight years. Last year, I went back to Karachi,” she narrates.

“I always like painting autumn colours. Time spent in Gilgit-Baltistan is the golden period of my life. I painted almost every significant view of the area. The flora I found at Deosai made a lasting impression on my pictorial memories.”

Meryam’s focus is to develop schools and compile books for curriculum but she spares time for painting and making sculptures.

With a good number of shows to her credit, Meryam has been making wire sculptures, mostly of trees for more than a decade.

In her recent works displayed in a solo show, she created small-scale sculptures inspired by the fairy tales but trees remained her all-time favorite subject to paint and make sculptures.

“Trees inspire me a lot, their grandeur, moving lines created by the branches, colours of leaves and fruits have a strong appeal for me as a visual artist. It is convenient to work with wires and beads, so I keep on making trees, shrubs and flora. It sounds meditative and relaxing to create small sculpture from wires and a bowl of beads which I always keep in my room. We have to develop a romance for trees which are essential for human existence, they are symbol of hope and growth,” she concludes.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2018