‘Each child is an artist; the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’
In recent years, ‘The Little Art’ and its subsidiary ArtBeat have held National Child Art Competition and various exhibitions in the city. Initiated in 2012, the express purpose of the project has been to promote visual arts and an understanding of issues among children and youth besides celebrating child artists.
According to its director and founder Shoaib Iqbal, the project seeks to “cultivate children’s cognitive, communal, emotional and physical abilities… while also teaching methods to form ideas of artistic expression.”
Talking to TNS, on the sidelines of the 4-day exhibit that recently opened at Alhamra The Mall, Iqbal said that children’s achievements should not be focused only towards academics.
This year, the theme of The Little Art was ‘Landscapes/Portraits’. The Little Art claims to have “received nearly 4,000 entries (artworks) from 190 schools and 260 individual artists from across Pakistan and 25 organisations working with special children.
“The project focuses on promoting a visual culture among children. They are encouraged to make portraits of people they like, or the landscapes they can relate to and remember; thereby sharing their voice through art with the community,” Iqbal said.
The jury consisted of eminent artists such as R.M Naeem, Risham Hussain Syed, Mrs Sadaf Naeem, Zamania Aslam and Shahzeb Ahmed.
The event turned out to be no less colourful, with excited children and their families turning up in great numbers.
“I believe the children should have access and exposure to the subject of arts that would eventually broaden their horizons,” said the chief guest at the launch, Prof Dr Shahida Manzoor, Principal, College of Art & Design, Punjab University.
The portraits made by the children largely featured Allama Iqbal, Quaid-e-Azam and Imran Khan. Also, a prominent face was that of Bacha Khan. The two students Sikander and Abdullah Jan, belonging to a remote school in Malakand, also named after Bacha Khan, were amongst the top winners.
The children had been asked to make portraits of people such as their parents, guardians, friends, teachers, a person they like the most, or vague faces that if given a chance the opportunity can become a source of inspiration for them.
Countless landscape drawings, showcasing the aesthetic ability of the little artists were another prominent feature.
As Shoaib Iqbal said, “Such programmes [help to] develop young people’s insight into the world, increase their self-confidence and aid them in creating a vision for the future.
“At ArtBeat, we want the children to creatively express themselves and grow up to become critical thinkers and acquire analytical skills. At the same time, we want the parents, teachers and the society at large to understand their children and realise the potential they have.”
The selected child artists will get to attend a free studio workshop at R.M Naeem’s residence for two weeks besides winning cash prizes and a sponsored participation in the upcoming Sharjah International Biennial for Children’s Arts.
The growing popularity of the programme, over the last two years, can be determined by the fact that the number of participating schools has risen from 38 in 2012 to 141 in 2014.
The art competition had been categorised between 3-18 year olds from all over Pakistan and mixed mediums were used for illustrations.
As Risham Hussain Syed put it, “We want to allow the children this year to freely express themselves. Their creative expressions should be valued by their teachers, the society in general which will further connect them better with their family and the important people in their life.”