Spring in Lahore announces its arrival with a bang. The foggy mornings and smoggy days of winter are replaced with clear sunshine and blooming flowers in hues of red, pink and yellow and the bulky sweaters and coats in deep, dark hues are replaced by light, breezy lawn prints in bright ethereal tones.
And to celebrate the many colours of spring and the flowers they manifest in, textile house Kayseria has collaborated with artist Dr Rahat Masud to produce a collection that celebrates the beauty and magnificence of nature. The collection is called ‘The Flowering Trees of Lahore’.
Under this union, Dr Masud, an internationally acclaimed artist and the former principal of Punjab University’s College of Art and Design, has created with dry pastels, images of some of the most stunning flowers that bloom on trees in Lahore — the Kachnar, Amaltas, Gulmohar, Gul-e-Nishtar, Sumbul, Marror Phalli or Katsagon and Gulchand or Gardenia. The drawings have then been digitally printed onto fabric by Kayseria.
‘The Flowering Trees of Lahore’ was launched on Friday in the grassy lawns of Alhamra with an exhibition displaying each of the artist’s drawings on easels alongside a mannequin draped with the fabric the art had been translated on. Some of the guests were also seen sauntering around in the newly launched prints, tailored in their own distinct ways, while live musicians played the sitar, flute, tabla and sarod.
Dr Masud specialises in drawings of nature in pastels so this was right up her alley. “When spring starts, all the flowers start blooming one after the other. Right now, the Kachnar has blossomed, the Sumbul is also blooming, Gulmohar will be next and at the end comes Amaltas. For the better part of the year, we have flowering trees around," she told Images.
"So this is kind of an awareness as well as a celebratory thing. It also allowed me to go deep into the mystique of the flowers and study their aura. My studio was filled with flowers and their scents.”
Dr Masud also spoke fondly of her experience with textiles through this first of its kind collaboration. “It was a wonderful experience. I had to consider the needs of the textile — whether they wanted to show the bud, leaf or flower — because they have to build a pattern. So I captured the flowers accordingly from all angles. And when you paint, you become one with the object, whether still life or human.”
She studied the work of the brand and its requirements for six months and realised it needed intricate details. But she’s also glad that this project could help create awareness about artists' work. “When they know an artist has drawn the flower that has been printed, they’ll admire the strokes. This brings accessibility through the fabric, and also stresses the significance of the trees and flowers for the environment, how to take care of them and through them beautify a city,” she said optimistically.
Kayseria’s creative director, Waleed Zaman, who is the brains behind the collection, said it would help show people what amazing assets trees are. “We’ve seen them all from a distance, basked in their splendour, or taken shade for that matter, but never had an observational study. I wanted the flowering trees to become a cultural celebration; they're a great asset of Lahore and I wanted it to be celebrated just as the Japanese celebrate the cherry blossom," he explained.
This project with Dr Masud is the third part of Kayseria’s Master’s Collection series. The brand has already collaborated with two other artists for similar collections. The first was around five years ago with master fresco painter Ustad Saifur Rehman, who is credited with the restoration of several historical buildings, and the second with carpet and textile designer Mohsin Banday in 2019.
Textile houses in Pakistan don't usually work with artists, they tend to favour working with fashion designers for their lawn collections. But being an artist himself, Zaman realised how important it was to bring out the works of some great names from the art world for Pakistan to see.
“The textile design industry is saturated with textile mills working with fashion designers trying to create hype and sell as much as possible. Fashion designers have undoubtedly made a great contribution for the fashion industry, but we realised that true print design is a field of art because you’re creating surface design, pictures, paintings, moods and ideas on paper that get translated onto fabric," he said.
"So, the lines between art and design get blurred. We felt [there was] a huge gap as no one was collaborating with artists. Being an artist myself, I feel artists are not given their due place and that brought about these collaborations, which will continue.”