“This is the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam,” the micro artist Badar shows his art work. The mausoleum is curved masterly over coloured-pencil graphite. After a meticulous focus, one can hardly see the curves on the tiniest mausoleum. “Before having this box, I often mishandled the small wooden boats. Now they are safe since I have gotten this box,” says Badar while taking his tiny art work out of the carefully managed box. Badar needs only a razor for making the smallest things out of graphite and wood. But the efforts are arduous. “Working on Minar-e-Pakistan needed two times more efforts and time than I consumed on making mausoleum. I took six hours to curve out the Minar on graphite,” Badar recalls.
The micro artist is a resident of Gaddani town, a Tehsil of Hub city which is the industrial city of Balochistan. Zigzagging into narrow, congested and complicated streets of the coastal town of Gaddani, one takes 10 minutes passing small grocery shops to reach house of the “micro artist”, Mr Badar. The house lies adjacent to some neighbouring wooden-hut houses. Gaddani is Situated at the bank of Arabian Sea, it is a well-known picnic point in Balochistan; however, on Asian map, it curves out to have Asia’s third largest ship-breaking yard in its cradle. But there is little known about the inhabitants of the town among whom the micro artist Badar lives.
Badar was born and raised in a family of a fisherman, Sheedi Khan. Sheedi Khan has abandoned his profession of fishing. Now he runs his grocery shops. “We are four brothers. The youngest runs shops along with father; elder to me is a sailor and the eldest has joined Navy. And, I have chosen art as my career,” says Badar while talking about his art work.
“My father doesn’t like my profession. Due to my father’s indifferent attitude towards my profession, I have to decline interviews to media persons. Someone has said father about my profession that it is a waste of time which will not bear any economic fruits in future,” Badar says, adding: “However, after I have got some media coverage, my father seems optimistic and doesn’t oppose my profession anymore.”
“I was only four,” he recalls, “when I developed interest in making wooden boats. Due to lack of money to buy material needed for making boats, I used to walk on the beach to collect discarded things from ships and managed to bring them in my use.”
“My pocket money was 2 rupees or sometimes I received 5 rupees which were not enough to buy material used in my art work,” Badar adds.
Lack of education is a hurdle in understanding the value of art
Inhabitants of Gaddani rely on educational institutions situated more or less 20 km away in Hub. Semi government-run school, The Citizen Foundation (TCF), has been providing necessary education to masses, but it is not capacious enough to provide entire population with quality education thus forcing students to travel to Hub for fulfilling their educational needs. The quest for learning English language coerces most of the students to take route of the City.
“I didn’t know much about art. I could only do my art work (making small wooden boats) for I would become a carpenter in future and this craft would not let me die from hunger. Need be, I would use it as means of earning,” the micro artist takes a retrospective glace at his past. “When I didn’t know about art how important it was,” Badar says, “I learnt that a student named Shahzaib, could speak English. It was astonishing that someone belonging to town had learnt English. The quest led me to skill in English and I wished to initiate an English language centre in Gaddani.”
“Unfamiliarity with art and its importance starts with basic point which is lack of career counselling. Second, our curriculum lacks the standardized material which could teach art during basic schooling of children. Teaching through multiple intelligence methods is way adopted in countries throughout the world,” explains Hammal Khan, lecturer fine arts at Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS), adding: “teaching through dance, music, painting, theatre, drama, and movies is part of art. This way of teaching opens up all senses of children to think in different ways.”
Art, a discouraging profession for many
“I have to face many people in my surrounding who discourage me. There are few friends who support and encourage while majority of people I interact discourage me.” Badar says. “This is because most of the people think in terms of earning. For them, Job is the essential part of profession and they believe that art cannot make money,” Badar explains.
“People hate, despise and dislike an artist and his/her profession because the artist speaks, paints and sketches the truth. He/she talks about the emancipation, freedom from societal chains, exposes the ills of the society and above all an artist never works for remuneration,” says lecturer Hammal Khan.
Government and promotion of art and artists
In 2018, government of Balochistan passed “Balochsitan Art Council Act” to promote art and culture. The act enunciates a broad vision to promote art whereas the act, through its clauses, clearly promises to provide artists with art education, and most importantly, create a market place for the artists to earn. The act also includes the facilities of loans. In 2019, government of Balochistan allocated 200 million rupees for the promotion of art and culture. However, things are yet to be implemented properly.
“On government level, we have art council to look after art and its promotion. However, its functioning is equal to naught,” laments Hammal Khan.
“I spend around two thousand rupees from my pocket to make artificial waterfalls. The material used in the making is expensive. I cannot earn from my work as there is no proper channel through which I can exhibit my work in market,” says Badar. “Everything that one does is not for earning money,” says Badar, “people merely think in terms of money but wishes should have wings too.”
“Who says I would die from hunger. With my art work, I can earn through carpentering. If government creates a market place for art work, not only I can earn for myself but, with high demand, I can induct five or more workers with me. Altogether, we can earn and promote our art,” concludes Badar.
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