Thursday, November 20, 2008


No artwork today.

I thought I might write a little about living in Pakistan. We aren't allowed out much - I mean at all - because of the security situation so since we have been here my experience of Pakistan has pretty much been limited to what I see on the ride to and from work.

In the mornings, the light is lovely, filtering in pale apricot rays through the trees, a light early morning mist lingering in the air. We pass a little stream which must be about 10ft below street level. There are always people there, standing by the side of the road, using the water from the stream which looks incredibly polluted, to wash themselves and their cars. A little further down the street are open areas where yesterday I saw an elderly man jogging barefoot round the field. Along every street you see tents pitched in little clusters and the occupants wondering around getting ready for their days. Many streets are barricaded and we often have to change our route to work because the security situation has necessitated new roadblocks. Now the leaves are starting to change colour and they are not the brilliant colours of western autumns, but seem a softer more pastel version of the autumn that I am used to. On every street corner there are police and soldiers armed with automatic weapons. On one street there are these little beehive shaped buidings, they can't be more than 5 ft high, and our driver told us that they are typical of the area slightly north-west of us, closer to the Himalayas.

On the ride home in the evening, we pass a park where there are always around 20 youths learning some form of martial arts. They are all dressed in black, they perform their exercises with military precision. The open area where the old man had been jogging is now filled with men of all ages playing cricket. Many are seated watching the game even thought the light is fading fast. Trucks are painted in the most amazing patterns and colours, each totally unique, buses are crammed with people so you wonder how anyone will ever be able to get off. Cars are dented and battered and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how the traffic moves and yet no-one seems entirely perturbed by the neighbouring car swerving across their path. Women on the streets are dressed either in multi-coloured shalwar khameez, or in abayas and veils as we saw in Saudi Arabia.

In the last couple of days I have painted a couple of small pictures as I am still determined to do something every day. I haven't been able to connect with any turpentine here so I am using watersoluble oil paints which has one huge advantage. When I don't like what I have done I just stick the canvas under water and wash it off! Which allows me to paint but I don't have to waste canvas. One thing that I have realised with these little daily paintings is that I like to paint objects that have some substance to them rather than objects which have a smaller profile, like today's packet of M&Ms. I've also realised that I much prefer somthing that allows me to be more loose in the application of the paint - maybe I am at last being able to get to paint the sort of paintings that I would also choose to have in my own home.

I've nearly finished the portrait commission that I have been working on and am going to start the portrait for the swap on WC! over the weekend. My poor partner must think I am never going to get it done! I'm also ready to start something with more substance to it.

This is all a little disconnected so I hope it makes some sense. Hope to post some artwork on Saturday.


Jeanette said...

It must be so frustrating to not wander at will and more so, to see sights that you want to capture but not be able to stop and do so. Can you take photographs?

You are priviledged to glimpse other worlds that most of us just dream of, even if they do enforce restrictions on you. Store up the scenes and put them onto paper or canvas.

And stay safe!

Lisa Lorenz said...

Hi Anita, Was very interesting to read your post today! Hope you can get out and about and explore soon...xoxoxo Lisa

Robyn said...

Fascinating to learn a little about your Pakistan, Anita. At one moment I feel terribly nervous for you but then I'm comforted by the picture of a cricket game. It's so human that the cultures of cricket and automatic weapons can mingle so quickly and become 'normal'.

So it looks like a lot of sketching of local colour isn't going to be part of your experience and I realise how much the sub continent has changed from what I remember. On the other hand it is so exciting to see you painting so much! Wonderful and inspiring. I relate to your need to lock away the small brushes - I haven't managed to do that but know I'm never going to make a painterly picture until I do.

Your doughnuts are gorgeous.

all artwork is copyright of Anita Murphy 2006/2007/2008/2009