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One of the rare photos preserved at the Sindh archives.—White Star
One of the rare photos preserved at the Sindh archives.—White Star

KARACHI: The Sindh Archives, established in 1976, has worked towards preserving and conserving the written and pictorial history of the country. Its latest venture is an exhibition of rare paintings and photographs in its new gallery space on Thursday, which is a new milestone for the local arts and cultural community in Sindh.

According to Akbar Laghari, Sec­retary Culture, Tourism and Antiquities, “history, art and culture need to be encouraged and highlighted in the country. The Sindh Archives is one such institute under the information department which preserves and conserves invaluable documents, photos and paintings related to our rich culture and history.”

This art exhibition is the first of its kind for the Sindh Archives and care has been taken to include portraits, sketches, and photographs made by local artists which in some way or the other highlight the political and cultural history of the province.

Abdul Aleem Lashari, Director of the Sindh Archives, is behind the construction and management of the gallery. “There are many private galleries in the city, as well as some under the federal government, but this gallery is the first of its kind where a department of the provincial government has established a gallery where rare paintings and photographs are being exhibited.”

The painting and photographs can be accessed by researchers who visit the Sindh Archives and it will also encourage local artists who can in the future display their work in the new gallery space.

Independent curator Mehreen Hashmi worked closely with the Sindh Archives to make this a success and expressed her delight at being part of selecting the artworks, which were old and needed to be restored, and helping display them.

Some of the paintings on display were of great figures that have made a mark in Sindh’s political history; the oil painting of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a rather imposing addition. Benazir Bhutto’s visit to conflict-ridden Siachen was captured beautifully in a photo which offered a fascinating insight into her time as prime minister. Photos of her along with her family were also displayed and offered a contrast between her personal and professional life.

Audio-visual gallery will also be unveiled soon at the Sindh Archives, where interviews of Pakistan’s legends will be included. There are plans to expand and further improve on the project and other artists will be allowed to exhibit their work within the new space.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2018