What isn't under lockdown— and might yet save us from the worst— is the goodness and charity of those who are able to help and assist in a time when it's needed the most.
This time the art fraternity of Pakistan has stepped up to play its part.
Prints for Pandemic Relief, a recent initiative spearheaded and organised by three women, Seyhr Qayum, Zuneera Shah and Naeha Rashid, is an independent print sale fundraiser mobilising art for aid towards people affected by Covid-19.
It brings together local contemporary visual artists who have donated their original artwork — photographs, images of paintings, and digital art — for sale as prints.
Prints for Pandemic Relief has paired up with a diverse mix of grassroots activists and organisations that cover various vulnerable communities and geographies.
Following the format of an incredibly successful fundraiser that recently took place in New York, Pictures for Elmhurst, Seyhr Qayum, a multidisciplinary artist who is currently pursuing a Master in Fine Art at Pratt Institute, New York, gathered her connections and tried it out in a Pakistani context and market.
Her aim was not only to initiate fundraising efforts marked for grassroots relief workers who are better able to reach vulnerable communities but to also assist artists whose work has stopped during the pandemic in bringing their work in the spotlight by reproducing original artwork.
Speaking to Images, Zuneera Shah, one of the organisers and a gender and development consultant at CGAP who has been contributing as an independent fundraiser and relief aid worker in light of Covid-19, said, "The idea is to bring together cutting edge work of the artists, who have been extremely generous in donating their work and have allowed us to make unlimited editions."
She continued," We've raised money for relief efforts but we've also kept artists in the conversation."
With more than 50 artists on board, contributors include the brightest names in Pakistani art to indie and upcoming visual artists like Shehzil Malik, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Farzaneh Syed, Komail Aijazuddin, Misha Japanwala, to name a few, with prints being updated regularly.
Starting May 1, the fundraiser will go on for three weeks, till May 22, and will raise money internationally as well as in Pakistan.
All prints have a standard size (9in x 12in) and a fixed price (Rs6,000), and will be shipped when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Prints for Pandemic Relief has teamed up with a group of 6 grassroots organisations, community workers and activists, currently working on providing relief aid in different parts and communities of Pakistan.
These partners include Karachi Bachao Tehreek, SLUMABAD, Corona Solidarity Campaign, Humanity First Pakistan, among others.
According to Shah, "We have a diverse range of partners because we wanted to make sure the money was going all over Pakistan. It was important that smaller initiatives and grassroots work was being spotlighted and given money."
Through their campaign, Prints for Pandemic Relief is helping organisations like Karachi Bachao Tehreek provide PPEs to medical and paramedical staff in hospitals in Karachi, Hyderabad, Gadap, Kathore and providing rent relief to families in Karachi’s working-class neighbourhoods.
In addition to community-led grassroots organization, partner organisations and activists also advocate for and provide swift and efficient access to basic hygiene, relief, and ration supplies (especially during Ramazan) in slums and low-income neighbourhoods and communities they work in.
Header image: Isolation by Amara Sikander, The Somnambulist by Isma Gul Hasan and Sinking by Hafsa Ashfaque