Friday, October 5, 2012

ASG opens season with exhibition on art, embroidery from Balochistan

The Asian Study Group (ASG) in collaboration with the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA), held its opening of the season event, which saw a sizeable number of old members and those aspiring to join this very informative and entertaining group turn up for the occasion.

Apart from signing up for membership, there was an exhibition of art and embroidery from Balochistan; the sale of limited edition calendars composed of prize-winning photographs taken by members; ASG publications and information about the sub-groups of which there are over a dozen. The main attraction was a multi-media presentation by Naheed Jafri Azfar, titled ‘Balochistan: The Other Side,’ a personal narrative of history, culture, costumes and travel.

The proceeding began on time with president ASG welcoming everyone and thanking them for their support to the organisation. She then introduced the Ambassador of Turkey, Babur Hizlan as the patron for the year 2012-13 and thanked him for accepting the position; announced that ASG was thirty nine years old and run entirely by dedicated volunteers — whom she thanked profusely for the wonderful job they were doing — and enumerated the various sub-groups that members can join to actively participate in its programmes.

She concluded by thanking the secretary, Ministry of Culture, Araf Ghafoor and DG, PNCA Tauqir Nasir, as well as all other officials and staff members for their help and cooperation and hoped it would continue in the years to come.

She then requested the patron to introduce the speaker Ambassador Hizlan said it was an honour to be the patron of ‘this prestigious organisation;’ of which he had come to know when his predecessor, Ambassador of Belgium, Hans Cristian Kint introduced him to it. He then gave a brief introduction of the speaker. Naheed’s presentation was based on her extensively researched, yet to be published book that promises ‘a profound, powerful visual presence and sensitive documentation. All political references end in 1947.’ It was well presented, with Naheed explaining why she became interested in Baluchistan and reading out the interesting experiences she has had while researching her subject matter, meeting collectors and travelling to the interior of the province - turning out to be a natural story teller who put the narrative in words that could be understood by listeners. In the second half of her presentation she screened old maps and photographs that made for a fascinating journey into the past. As per tradition, the patron and his wife Emel graciously hosted a dinner at the residence for ASG committee members and the guest speaker. It was an enjoyable way to end an evening, relaxing in the beautiful surroundings of their residence and having the rare treat of savouring a meal of Turkish cuisine, which is not found in any restaurant in the capital.

Naheed Jafri-Azfar is an internationally recognized art historian. She has co-authored (with Sherry Rehman) the prize winning book ‘The Kashmiri Shawl from Jamawar to Paisley’, published by Mapin India and The Antique Collectors’ Club, UK 2006. Dynamic and multi- facetted, she is considered a pioneer in fashion and design in Pakistan.

The ASG was formed in Islamabad in 1973 as a non-profit body to allow members of the community, especially the expatriates, to get to know about the culture; geography; history; religion; environment; crafts and customs of the region in general and Pakistan in particular.

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