A solo exhibition of ceramic sculptures highlighting Pakistan’s architectural heritage opened on Saturday with 30 pieces depicting forts, minarets, baradaris, jharokas and so on.

The exhibition, titled Forgotten Relics, showcases the work of sculptor-ceramist Jamil Hussain. It opened at the Nomad Gallery.

Mr Hussain’s work traces centuries-old history, vanishing built-heritage and the multicultural identity of the people of the subcontinent rooted in the Indus and Gandhara civilisation.

Former federal minister Nisar Memon said the exhibition was “an amazing work and a living history of the country’s rich heritage”.

He lamented negligence on the part of the authorities and expressed the hope that the new government would give importance to the conservation of cultural heritage by establishing museums in every city to educate people on the region’s rich heritage.

Mr Hussain is an experienced ceramist and sculptor, said gallery director and curator Nageen Hyat.

“His focus is on highlighting the traditional architecture of our region in relief form and 3D sculptures. He evaluates architectural details and experiments with forms and colours,” Ms Hyat said.

As a socially conscious artist, Mr Hussain is keen to share his feelings with others and wants to relive the past and connect it to the present.

“We carry a legacy of great build-heritage grandeur and culture which is reflected in our beliefs and lifestyle,” he said.

The artist has used clay to depict childhood memories; his love of sculptures goes back to his childhood, when old havelis and buildings fascinated him.

“I used to visit abandoned havelis in Aimenabad, Chiniot and Gujranwala and [would be] fascinated by their grandeur,” he said.

“For any culture, built-in heritage is as sacred as relics but unfortunately they are being forgotten in the modern age, disintegrated in the dust with time,” he added.

He said he wanted to arrange a bus safari for artists to visit these sites all over the country before they vanish.

Mr Hussain said: “The glamorous and beautiful built-heritage has shaped us for thousands of years. I have taken upon myself the responsibility of highlighting the significance of retaining our bond with our glorious past and to promote awareness forpreservationof our unique and splendid heritage and its role in our present lives.

“My work purely reflects my passion and love for our glorious and grand built-heritage.”

Archaeology Punjab Director General Dr Saifur Rehman Dar said Mr Hussain has carved out a place for himself among ceramists with his artistic ability and hard work.

“His works present a brutal reality of our heritage being mulled in the mud of neglect due both to inadequate management facilities and the lack of public awareness about diminishing built heritage,” Mr Dar said.

“The neglect of architectural heritage in our country has crossed all limits,” commented cartoonist and teacher Prof Shaukat Mahmood.

“Painters, writers, and critics can certainly highlight this problem but a ceramist showing his concern for the noble cause of conserving our heritage is indeed a singular example,” he added.

The exhibition will remain on display every day until Sept 8 from 11am to 7pm except on Fridays.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2018