Nadia Fawad is a thinking woman’s artist with a teacher’s nous. She is reflective; drawing inspiration from her surroundings — “be it something as celestial as a spectacular sunset or as mundane as a kitchen utensil” — and leaving a mark with her creativity.
She feels more at home with glass painting and ceramic work even though she has experimented with different media like sketching, oil paintings, water painting, crayons and pencil colours.
In a freewheeling interview with Community, Nadia typically puts her heart and soul into how she sees the medium — “living art” as she fondly puts it.
Tell us a bit about yourself: where you hail from, where you received education, your family, travel and experiences…
I am true to myself and like to take up challenges. This has helped me blaze a trail in all my endeavours. I hail from Pakistan. My graduation was from the Punjab University in the industrial city of Gujrat. During my undergraduate days, I had been a star badminton player with many trophies to my credit.
My married life took me to Islamabad, the country’s capital; I seized this opportunity to buttress my qualifications and acquired a Diploma in Montessori Professional Teaching from the renowned Montessori Teaching Training College at Westridge, Rawalpindi. Armed with new qualifications, I started my professional career at the SLS School, considered amongst the leading schools in Islamabad.
But it is not like me to rest on my laurels. My husband’s job then as an engineer with Pakistan Television Corporation saw us move to Muzaffarabad. There, I acquired Master’s degree in English Language and Literature from the AJK University. My late father is survived by my mother, still in Gujrat, and my two siblings, now happily married.
How do you relate to art? What best describes the medium?
Art is a very insightful subject. I see art as an extension of my personality. Art, much akin to philosophy, reflects the innermost realities of humanity. Art depicts the interplay between individuals and the material world. It intertwines and stitches together the material and spiritual realities and brings forth a reality that is truer than life. The insight for this expression is derived through divine inspiration for which an artist needs to think and live the art whilst being acutely aware of the omnipresence of God and beholden for the artistic gift. Whichever art form that enables the fulfilment of such expression is the most appropriate medium.
What genre of art do you practice and what — or who — inspired you to get into it?
Visual art is my genre. I experiment with different media like sketching, oil paintings, water painting, crayons and pencil colours, but I believe my inspirational artwork are best represented through the media of glass painting and ceramic work. My sister, who is a professional artist, has been my guiding light. My God-given artistic gift has been nurtured and brought to fruition through exposure to her works.
What does it take to harness the craft? Is there an artist you admire or have learnt from?
The more one makes art a part of one’s self, the better it gets. That means, thinking art, doing art, living art. One, then, sees art in everything, be it something as celestial as a spectacular sunset or as mundane as a kitchen utensil.
Having said that, I make craft out of waste. Many a piece of disposable bottles or carry-bags can be transformed into admirable pieces of artwork. I was introduced to this type of art by my art teacher at the Montessori Teaching Training College. From then onwards, I took a special interest and refined my interpretation of this art through the application of my cognitive skills to such a level that when I now see waste like plastic bottles, packaging cartons or similar disposables, I begin to visualise the piece of art that can be made from it!
What themes appeal the most to you and where do you get the inspiration to get down to work?
Nature, in its many shades of green, charms me the most, as it did William Wordsworth. Inspiration comes from contemplation. A silent introspection of one’s experiences, thoughts and feelings sets the tone and the setting to settle down to a creative project.
What do you consider to be your best work and why?
I have done calligraphy on mirrors using glass paints, for which I received wide appreciation. My most impactful contribution to art was during my tenure as the Project Officer in the NGP called Action Aid in Pakistan. I had developed and run a programme to up-skill rural teachers from traditional teaching methods to modern lesson planning techniques.
Have you exhibited your work? Do you sell art?
Over the years, I have held exhibitions in various fora in Pakistan and the feedback has been very encouraging. Sale of my work has been more for my inner creative satisfaction of knowing what worth my works would sell for rather than for commercial objectives. I do this work for my inner creative satisfaction. An artist is always happy in his own company so long as the fire of creativity burns bright within. Art provides catharsis from any loneliness.
What do you like about the expat experience the most?
With a burgeoning expat community in Qatar, there are numerous opportunities to showcase one’s capabilities and talents. One of these was the exhibition at the MIA Park, where I got the opportunity to exhibit my work of art rather than to sell. My work elicited keen interest from many.
What is it that you most miss about home? How often do you travel back?
As an expat, it is hard not to miss hometown. The places where we played as children, our parents, extended family, friends, the breath-taking natural beauty of the countryside, the pleasant weather, my favourite foods… the list is endless. But most of the all, I profoundly feel the separation from my mother which is what compels me most to visit my country time and again. Being with her literally, makes me feel alive.
Tell us about an interesting anecdote from your life that brings a smile, a tear or just fond remembrance…
Life lived to the fullest is replete with profound experiences, some more memorable and impactful than others. My father’s demise was one such turning point, which thrust me straight into the thick of life. I was suddenly expected to be mature and responsible. Thankfully, I out-lived the challenge, by the Grace of Allah the Almighty and my husband’s unfailing support in no small measure, and I am now the stronger for it. The sense of gratitude and the feeling of accomplishment at having discharged my responsibilities brings both tears to my eyes and the curl of a smile to my lips.
What is the most important life lesson that you think held you in good stead, and would probably everyone else?
“When you have more than you need, use it to build a longer table, not a higher fence.” This is the guiding philosophy for my thoughts and deeds. It allows me to experience the pleasure of giving and the joy to be able to spread happiness around. To sum it up, Seek the Light and Spread it.
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