We were shown round Pindi by artist and critic Aasim Akhtar. Flick through the gallery to see examples of his artwork!
Born in 1967 in Rawalpindi, Aasim Akhtar is an artist, art critic and curator. He studied English Literature in addition to earning a BA in Design from the National College of Arts, Lahore. He was a curator-in-residence at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan in 2002. His curatorial practice includes An Idea of Perfection: National Exhibition of Photography (2004), The Figurative Impulse (2007), The Nocturnal Song: Interpretations on the Theme of Night (2008), The Line Unleashed (2010), Pachyderm (2010) and Silent Decibels (2010). His writing is published in magazines, catalogues, books and journals, both nationally and internationally, and his art work has been widely exhibited, more recently at Whitechapel Gallery, London, as part of a commemorative show entitled, ‘Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh (2010). He is the author of two published books: Regards Croises: Peshawar and The Distant Steppe: Indus Kohistan, and has just finished writing his third, Dialogues with Threads: Traditions of Embroidery in Hazara. He teaches Art Appreciation at Fatima Jinnah Women’s University in Rawalpindi.
Rawalpindi is a mix of architectural influences due to the colourful cultural and religious history of the city. These ancient buildings, a legacy to this rich past, although mostly occupied, are today falling into disrepair. There is not the time, money or inclination to halt their crumbling. This gallery gives a glimpse into the beautiful but neglected old heart of the city.
Imran films a typical bustling Rawalpindi street as we head for lunch. Look out for the variety of shops and traders!
A gallery of our encounters while exploring the alleys and streets of Rawalpindi. Much of life happens outdoors - men sell their wares or wait by the side of the road with their tools set out in front of them to be contracted for the day. Women on the other hand are less obvious in the bustling streets. We spoke to a few in the alleys, holding children and grinning, curious about a mixed bunch of foreigners outside their family home. All were full of questions and welcoming, while the children happily posed away for the cameras.
Rawalpindi: a place of architecture, history and fashion. A gentleman named Aasim took us on a tour around ‘Pindi.
We were shown all of the different historical areas and how the city may have changed from years ago. It was evident to say that nothing had changed and the city hadn’t progressed forward into a better or more modern place. The historical buildings looked beautiful, however, it looked as if it hadn’t been touched or taken care of. To a certain extent I believe that it is nice to keep the identity of ‘Pindi with these buildings, however, it should at least be taken care of and to have the surrounding areas looking presentable and child friendly. There were loads of cable wires hanging from building to building as well as an untidy environment.
We were then shown the behind-the-scenes of the textiles beading work as Aasim got us access to the rooms in which the bead work is hand sewn onto the fabric. This was inspirational & incredible as the bead work looked so intricate and detailed – as these men grafted hard to keep to the standards of the design.
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How has my city changed?
Every city changes. New buildings go up, old ones are pulled down. People move in, others move out. Character shifts and tone alters. Rawalpindi is one such city. Situated on a popular ‘invasion route’, there has been a settlement in the area for over 3,000 years. Variously destroyed and rebuilt by the Huns, the first Muslim invader, Mahmud of Ghazni, the Sikhs and the British, Rawalpindi has seen a tenfold rise in population since 1960.
We visit some of the city’s hidden secrets with local art critic and photographer, Aasim Akhta, and ask whether all progress is good or whether the soul of the city has been left behind by the increased commercial development of recent decades.