British Council Pakistan/ UK: New Perspectives

In partnership with the British Council Pakistan/UK: New Perspectives, Art South Asia Project has been working on the following projects between Pakistan and the UK for 2022. This summer, ASAP partnered with COMO Museum in Lahore to host “Mastering Art & Research in Pakistan”, an in person symposium of workshops and panel discussion focused around the collaboration.

Art Reproduction in Pakistan

Research Project conducted by Dr. Samina Iqbal and Mrs. Salima Hashmi
As part of Art South Asia Project’s Research division, we aim to support projects, which will benefit the field of modern & contemporary visual arts in South Asia.
The project entitled “Art Reproduction in Pakistan'' sets out to explore some of Pakistan's famous old master’s artworks' reproduction for commercial purposes. The objective of this study will be to trace the history of how these reproductions make way in the mainstream market and understand the extent of its prevalence nationally and internationally.
Salima Hashmi is a Pakistani painter, activist and essayist. Daughter of the renowned poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984), and a professor of art for thirty years at the National College of Arts Lahore, where she also served as the Principal from 1996-2000. Hashmi became the founding Dean of the School of Visual Arts at Beaconhouse National University Lahore serving from 2003-2015, and now Professor Emeritus there.
Samina Iqbal is an artist, art historian and academic currently working as Associate Professor at the Lahore School of Economics, Pakistan. She has previously taught at Appalachian State University, North Carolina, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore and Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. She received her BFA from the National College of Arts, Lahore (1997), an MFA from the University of Minnesota (2003), and a PhD in art historical studies from the Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (2016). Her research focuses on the study of modern art in Pakistan in the first decade of its establishment through an artist collective called Lahore Art Circle. Intrigued by patterns, Iqbal is interested in investigating the role of visual pattern and its use to a sort of camouflaging the underlying themes and narratives with recognizable visuals.

Inventing the Nation: Making Histories and New Possibilities

Research Project conducted by Sophia Balagamwala
Sophia Balagamwala, contemporary artist and curator based in Karachi, Pakistan, is working on the research project “Inventing the Nation: Making Histories and New Possibilities” with ASAP and the British Council Seasons, Pakistan. The project explores collections and politics of the museum complex in South Asia, and its impact on nation building and identity formation.
Balagamwala’s project looks at the presence of imperial and national narratives in specific collections and institutions, and the entanglements of colonial legacies in such projects. She is studying the systems of archiving, narrative building, and framing history within museums and archives, and questioning how these framings are able to convey, reinforce, mask or contradict histories and existing bodies of knowledge with a lens on both modern visual art and pre-modern art and objects.
Her project encompasses research at select institutions in Pakistan and the UK with a series of conversations and study sessions and an experimental publication, which will be available online on the ASAP and British Council Seasons perspective websites. The study sessions look at specific collections and case studies, including objects, artworks, labels, archives, exhibition making and publications to analyse and have meaningful discussions focused on the intertwined and complicated histories in these institutions. The publication will serve as a culmination of the project learnings, discoveries and discussions, and will include contributions from relevant academics, writers, artists and practitioners who have engaged with the project.
Sophia Balagamwala is a multidisciplinary artist and curator based in Karachi whose research is grounded in archives, and the act of narrative building within the museum context. She has a BA from the University of Toronto and an MFA from Cornell University. She has previously worked as the Lead Curator of the National History Museum in Lahore and is currently an advisor for the Citizens Archive of Pakistan, and the Lok Virsa Museum in Islamabad. She has also worked on a number of collaborative publication projects and conducted zine making workshops through a platform Balagamwala created called Kurachee, that facilitates animation, illustration and design collaborations. As a part of this project, she has founded a small alternative publishing grant called the Tiny Publication grant, and is curating a reading room at the COMO Museum, Lahore, to encourage research and create dialogue around local artist publications. She teaches at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture.

ASAP presents Art Murmur: Research in the Visual Arts

Professional Development programme conducted by Ambereen Siddiqui
As part of ArtMurmur, ASAP hosted a professional development series for artists, curators and art educators. We invited Ambereen Siddiqui to lead a series of panel discussions and create open source templates to help emerging and mid-career art practitioners develop artist statements, CVs, biographies and curatorial pitches that reflect research within their studio practices.
A series of three webinars focussed on the fundamentals of writing for your practice, including discussions with industry leaders regarding best practices. The webinar discussed the many ways in which writing can advance artistic practices, including creating contexts for artworks, identifying current themes in contemporary practices and improving social media content and engagement. The goal of the webinars was to communicate approachable ways of incorporating writing into one’s practice, while providing practical/actionable next steps.
The webinars were supplemented by open source templates in English and Urdu that help artists articulate their ideas, including prompts to help identify topics of interests and conceptual concerns. Artists were also be informed of ways in which they can look for opportunities to further their practice including residencies, open calls and grants.
The webinars took place from May to August 2022. To view recordings of the sessions, please visit our Art Murmur page
  • 19 May 2022: What to include in your Artist CV and Bio
  • 16 June 2022: An Artist Statement that Works For You
  • 21 July 2022: Developing a Curatorial Voice - Creating an Exhibition Proposal
Ambereen Siddiqui teaches the Research Methodology at the National College of Arts, Lahore for their Masters in Visual Arts programme. Siddiqui has a long standing commitment to art education, and making it accessible, particularly for artists of colour and women. While teaching at the NCA, she has tried to mitigate disparities in the education system and the compulsory use of English, even for non-native speakers, by developing learning resources that break down the process of writing a 10,000 word research dissertation into smaller, modular tasks. The work that she has done in her five years will inform both the webinar and the supplementary content that will be created for the webinar.

Website: British Council Pakistan/ UK: New Perspectives

Mastering Art & Research in Pakistan

On Saturday 27 August 2022 we held the event “Mastering Art & Research in Pakistan” at COMO Museum in Lahore to celebrate our partnership with the British Council and to showcase insight into our three projects. COMO Museum is the first private museum in Pakistan showcasing the works of established and emerging artists from around the country. The Museum, which was founded by Seher Tareen in 2019, also hosts a bookshop and café and welcomes all audiences. With COMO’s mission in mind, ASAP x BC partnered with the Museum to host all three workshops, which were open to artists, researchers, writers and other people interested in the arts. The three workshops led by each project leader were followed by a panel discussion with all four project leaders.



In "Museums and the Self", Sophia Balagamwala and Dr. Shaila Bhatti led a workshop for 12 people, in which each participant brought a personal object or photograph together to collaborate on building an imagined museum, including a mission statement and collection displays.
In "ASAP presents Art Murmur: Professional Development in the Visual Arts", Ambereen Siddiqui guided emerging artists and students through completing her template “An Artist Statement that Works For You”.
In "Challenges of Research", Dr. Iqbal and Professor Hashmi walked students and emerging artists through the practice of research in the Pakistani arts field.


Panel Discussion:

For the panel discussion, "From Art School to Research: A Guide Towards Navigating through the Arts", moderated by Nour Aslam, all four project leaders spoke to questions about their careers, opportunities for recent graduates and the state of research and writing in the Pakistani Arts Education system. Each project leader discussed how to understand the field of modern and contemporary south Asian art further if your interests lean towards research, curating and other professions than purely becoming a visual artist. The recording of the panel discussion is available on our Art Murmur page