National Art Gallery
he National Art Gallery in Islamabad is Pakistan’s first national gallery. The red
brick, contemporary and edgy exterior is eye catching. One finds six, ten feet tall
‘burqa’ clad women sculpted out of fibreglass to the side of the main entrance;
the sculptor – Jamil Baloch.
The art inside defies Pakistan’s image as a deeply conservative country of religious
extremists. The white painted exhibit halls are light and airy. A combination of
interconnecting architectural spaces is accessible from a spiralling light brick
ramp walkway. Every gallery looks into each other. Some spaces, for example the
sculpture gallery, are two stories high and can be viewed from overhanging balconies
offering different perspectives on the works below. Within the gallery there are
display areas, lecture halls, workshop and storage facilities, laboratories and
a library too.
Light flows through windows of all shapes and sizes, and the glass covered rooftop
atrium streams skylight into the spaces below. Large aluminium ‘scoops’ collect
and feed indirect light into 14 galleries spread over 91,000 square feet of space.
‘Scoops’ are an architectural gimmick used to bring in lateral light from the roof
and redirect it where natural light is not available. Most of the interior accents
are also made from exposed red and yellow brick. “The idea is that you should go
through the whole building in a circular pattern without having missed a single
object,” explains Naeem Pasha, one of the architects.
Mohatta Palace Gallery
ohatta Palace, one of Karachi’s most impressive monuments, was built by Seth Shivrattan
Mohatta, a prominent businessman from Marwar in Rajhastan in 1927, who wanted a
summer house by the seaside in Karachi which was then was viewed as a seaside resort.
The Palace was designed by Agha Hussain Ahmed who though settled in Karachi was
originally from Rajhastan, and sought to recreate the Anglo Mughal style that had
developed in Rajhastan.
The building is built of local yellow Gizri stone and imported pink Jodhpur stone,
which reflects some elements of the palaces of Rajhastan. This amalgam gave the
Palace a distinctive, elegant presence characterised by Mughal architecture which
was located not far from the sea. There are nine domes on the Palace, with a centre
dome in the middle.
The palace is solely made of teak wood with a polished staircase, long corridors
and doors opening within doors.
Miss Fatima Jinnah, sister of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah moved to Mohatta
Palace in 1964 and after her death in 1967 her sister Shireen Bai lived there. With
the passing away of Shireen Bai in 1980, the Palace was sealed. In 1995, it was
purchased by the Government of Sindh for its conversion into a Museum devoted to
the arts of Pakistan. The museum formally opened in 1999 and is run by a board of
The Lahore Arts Council (Alhamra) http://www.alhamraartscouncil.com.pk/
The art and culture of a country are the outward manifestations of the collective
pride and recognition of its people. Art and culture evolve, develop and enhance
our cultural identities. It is the single most powerful medium that can overcome
boundaries and limitations. It can change the individual, a mindset, or the way
a society perceives itself and its surroundings. Art itself evolves and reinvents
itself with time, history & topography. Alhamra is in Lahore, the cultural capital
of the country. An Arabic word, ‘Alhamra’ means a woman in red Clothes. This was
the name initially given to the Royal Enclave in Cordoba, Spain by the Arabs. The
palaces and other buildings were constructed in red brick. The idea of constructing
buildings of this style for the Arts Council was conceived by our illustrious architect,
Mr. Nayyar Ali Dada. The building has also been awarded with the Aga Khan International
Award for excellent architecture.
Alhamra is a successor to a society with the name of Pakistan Arts Council founded
on December 10, 1949. Subsequent developments include an open-air theatre and two
small auditoriums on Ferozepur Road, Lahore. A permanent art gallery was also constructed
at the Alhamra Cultural Complex, Gaddafi Stadium. This is the first art gallery
of its type in Pakistan where the work of old masters has been preserved and put
on permanent display. During the last 20 years, Alhamra has emerged as the hub of
all cultural activities in Lahore. It not only revived some of the dying arts but
also added international dimensions.
The soils and seasons of Punjab have produced folk dances and music of special melody
and rhythm representing sowing, growing, harvesting, weaving, camel walk, whirling
and striding in ecstasy. Its Sufis and saints have enlightened the hearts and souls
of people and taught them to stand for peace and equality of all men irrespective
of caste, colour and creed.