Up Close and Personal with Shehrezade Alam

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Sunday chats with the celebrated ceramic artist who just exhibited her latest collection, Our Clay Legacy. about her passionate connection to art:

How would you describe your aesthetic and style?

My aesthetic evokes forms that exist in nature. It is a style inspired by antiquity, inherently present in my soul. I’m very compelled by Harappa and Mehergarh pottery.

Tell us a little about your creative process. How do you begin a new piece? How does the title come to you?

It is, after all, the dance of earth, fire, water, air, and ether. The potter engages in the alchemy of these five elements, and eventually produces a piece. The pots are my teachers; they have taught me everything.

When do you know a piece you are creating is finished?

It starts to sing to me.

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What kinds of thoughts do you endeavor to deliver through your pieces? What do you want your audience to take from your pieces?

I want to astonish the audience. My favourite quote from Rumi sums it all up: “Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

What response does your art receive locally vs. internationally?

It’s almost the same. Some say that the forms resonate peace and tranquility.

Does it hurt you to sell pieces you love?

It’s a very painful separation. It is the same as with children, whom you bring into the world and nurture until you must learn to let go.

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Who are some of your favourite Pakistani artists?

Zahoor ul Akhlaq, Khalid Iqbal and Colin David .

If you could gift a piece of yours to anyone, which piece would it be and to who? 

I would match the pot to the person, who would smile upon receiving it.

What are your plans for the future? What are you working on right now?

We are taking “Rediscovering Harappa Through the Five Elements” now to a wider audience and educating the people about the Harrappan age and Harrappan civilization, which we are so fortunate to have.

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Advice you would give to a younger you?

Get away from plastic and go closer to nature.

Describe a typical day for you:

I love welcoming each day and celebrating life.

If you weren’t a ceramist you would be:

A textile designer.

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