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Tomorrow's masters of textile design.

LAHORE: The National College of Arts, in its Textiles Department Thesis display 2017, had four bright and talented students and now distinction holders, who surprised everyone with their work. These brilliant graduates are Rehmat Ajmal, Sobia Rao, Aquib Hayat and Nahida Raza.

When one tries to understand the vision of the Textiles department, these four fresh graduates' work for the thesis explains it all.

The four main themes explored in the department and its curriculum are: arts and crafts in the industry, textiles as an art form, research and fashion. The thesis display of these four students was a wonderful amalgamation of all four main streams in Textiles and Design. However, what makes these four young people and their work stand out amongst so many others is perhaps not that they followed diligently the core vision of the department (not to mention bringing about a ray of hope for one of Pakistan's biggest industries, that is, textiles) but the fact that these students in their work also encompassed all possible realms in the fields of arts and culture.

Sobia Rao takes up a few of the most iconic images from the Shahnameh of Firdausi and the Badshahnamah from the Mughal period. She translates those into an array of French knot textiles

Rehmat Ajmal's thesis was an enlightening discourse between textiles and technology. Her work was inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his 100 Years of Solitude. Her thesis though broke all boundaries between stereotypical viewing of arts and crafts. And yet it never compromised on the intellectual integrity of the field of Textiles itself. She had digitalised her prints and created a video projection through that process, which one could stand in front of, stop and pause where ever one wished to - and have a customised print. So, a ten-second-long projection could give ten such prints. Her images where visual chapters from the famous work of literature and the compositions, colours, mood and motives that it depicted - createing a bewildering experience that was unique and breathtaking for anyone who viewed the display at NCA. Ajmal's work delighted one, with a video installation at one moment and experiential art at the other. Here one could see a beautiful painting on one hand and a textiles genius on the other - showing great skill and technique with patterns and playfulness in fashion and design. This made her work - and the intellectual depth of the concept - one of the best works that were shown at the 2017 Degree Show at NCA.

Like Ajmal's book inspired textiles, there was another book with its own visual chapters of colour and compositions. While Ajmal had a modern approach towards textile making, Aquib Hayat's dexterity, in his own solitude and simplicity, created heart-wrenching divisions in love and loss, through the timeless tale of "Raja Gidh" (The Vulture King ) by Bano Qudisa. Hayat's three-dimensional embroideries were an exquisite palette of pain and passions within our society and its culture. His background from Sialkot and his own trajectory inspired him to take up this book and create what seemed like his own tale of a seeker in search of understanding and compassion in an ever fast-moving and sometimes cruel, even heartless world.

Rehmat Ajmal

Books create images in one's mind and they are the fastest and cheapest way to travel, it is said. Certainly that thought seemed to be of great value for Ajmal and Hayat, as they both did a phenomenal job in depicting individualistic dialects through text in terms of paintings, illustration, sculptural relief and digital art. Their work, in fact, comprises of various cultures and regions in their own respective backgrounds.

Now comes another book: a manuscript, a painting itself and its new interpretation in textiles. Sobia Rao takes up a few of the most iconic images from the Shahnameh of Firdausi and the Badshahnamah from the Mughal period. She translates those into an array of French knot textiles mounted like paintings. The idea is to incorporatethe the painting technique of 'Pardakhat': a soft, grainy and microscopic texture seen in Indo-Persian painting, with hand embroidery. For her, the details and the process of French knotting are synonymous with 'Pardakht'.

Nahida Raza

While Ajmal, Hayat and Rao had books to inspire them and produce inimitable works, Nahida Raza had no such resort. Her work for the thesis is inspired, instead, from firsthand research of the 'Sharma', the traditional rug of Hunza. Raza travelled across Baltistan, documenting about 200 rugs and learnt the art of making it from people who only specialised in this specific task, which is passed on within their families. Her video documentations and book inscriptions comprise of all the motives, plans and designs with a layout of the technique of producing 'Sharma'. Thus, for ages to come, she has preserved the technique and now hopes to develop and innovate with it further: hoping to contemporise the traditional craft from Hunza.
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Publication:Friday Times of Pakistan (Lahore, Pakistan)
Date:Feb 3, 2018
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