It is hard to pursue your interests while being in the middle of a city. – Especially in our caring culture like ours. Where others interfere with your time schedule, sometimes you, yourself interfere with your own time schedule. You can become a victim of your own goodness. Between the deaths and the marriages and the illnesses…. there is a barrage of good will which takes a toll on your work. But then, its great when you are the recipient. So then, you do it even more because you know what it means. I know how much our friends did for us during my husbands’ illness and subsequent death. Finally, after almost four years, now I can use this word (death). Still, it hurts. You see, the death of your spouse in not just a death. It’s the taking away of the roof over your head and the ground under your feet. The relocation is horrific. Its emotional, physical, financial, legal and psychological aspects are hard to deal with too. Now, that I’m getting back to my own work again, I’m realizing why through time, always anyone who achieved anything became a recluse for some time in his or her life.
This is why Holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to go out of the city of Makkah to meditate in the cave of Hira. He didn’t have the distractions we have. Still he would go. We all need this space between others and ourselves to be able to study ourselves, meditate and try to fathom out and understand things. It is vital for our own personal growth and development.
You will find artists who keep themselves aloof, are real successful. They are the ones defying fashions and lifestyles because this is the only way to achieve one’s personal goals (paintings!)
I remember, everyone making fun of my cousin Shahbaz Khan for having long hair when all others kept theirs short in the seventies. Once, long ago when he was in his first year in NCA, we had gone to his hostel to see his latest painting. It was a scene with over fifty to seventy figures in it, showing the typical village scene of races of cows. My grandmother was in the car waiting for us. While my father, aunt Mubarak (artist’ mother) and I went to his room upstairs. When we were being seen off by the artist, my grandmother said to him “Puttar, kadi naha wi laya kar!” (Son, please bathe sometimes also!) She was looking at his disheveled demeanor. So, there you have it. All of us had been telling her of how amazing the painting was, but all she could see was the artist. She was genuinely worried about his well-being. He went on to greater heights as an artist.
Shahbaz Khan has built a house outside the city of Lahore. Didn’t get married, and lives on his own terms. (He is the only one to have refused being interviewed by me for Dawn!) He feels that all this is unnecessary. Sometimes he won’t even sign on a painting. At a time when one of the usual paintings sold for Rs.500/- his sold for Rs.50,000/-, a few years later, when others paintings sold for Rs.50,000/- his sold for Rs.700,000/- ! Shahbaz Khan has painted one of the longest paintings in Pakistan which is over 100 feet long, and it’s about the ”Evolution of Man”. It can be seen in the NDU or the National Defense University in Islamabad. Another 37 feet long painting of his was for the roof of a dining room in Lahore. The house belongs to a business tycoon, the head of the largest dailies and news channel (The News and Jang Group, and Geo tv).
Allama Iqbal wished for a cottage in the wilderness surrounded by natural beauty in his poem ‘Aik Arzoo’ (A Wish). That is how you can come up with your own work. – by cutting off for some time from others, till your work is done.
Danielle Steel the famous writer, locks herself up in a cubicle which is 6 x 6 feet till her novel is complete. . I also know that most Hollywood writers have their own retreats to do their work in.
So, these are the tricks others do.
So, when we were planning our home, my husband encouraged me to plan out a studio in the basement (which I made sure has plenty of natural light. So, finally my studio is all set and my work has begun. The sad part is that he is no longer there to see it completed and functioning. Most of my life, when my kids were school going, I’d make them sleep at 9.00 pm, then go off to my ‘office’ which would be in the dining room, and write or paint till 12.00 or 1.00 am while my husband worked on his files in his office in our bedroom. That’s how I was the ‘artist’ and ‘writer’, and next morning went off to school with the kids, turning into the ‘educationist’.
Usually, I worked on two facets on a full time basis, and the third one sporadically. Making sure to give time to my family whenever they needed. Somehow it worked out.
Today is the opening of an exhibition at AQS gallery with Generation Rahi. – Another of my dreams coming true, to have my work exhibited alongside with my mentor. He is my guide, my mentor and my teacher. There will be thirteen professional artists latest work shown today, which have never been exhibited before. The Bangladeshi ambassador shall perform the opening. This exhibition shall be opened be at 5.30 this evening. It is 12.00 pm now. Hajra Mansoor is wife of Mansoor Rahi, who is also my mentor and guide. The couple work together with everything. I shall be meeting them along with the rest of our art group.