Four Classical Elements of Life Exhibition by Bina Ali
The four classical elements of life – earth, water, air and fire are what inspire Bina Ali the most.
She made this evident while talking about her works on display at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture Gallery. The show opened on September 2.
“It is a soulful experience,” she said. “Terracotta is earth that I mix with water to mould into a shape. Then I use air to dry it and fire to harden it. Then I use colour to enhance my product.”
The artist loves exploring what she can do with terracotta, thus the title ‘Nomadic Journey’. Among her pieces are clay pots that have different, intricate designs.
“Back in 1995, when I was an art student, my friend and I started with pottery,” she said while talking to The Express Tribune. “It seemed aesthetically rich playing with clay as it was almost part of our history.” She recalls how clay was the medium used by the craftsmen – or ‘artel’ – of the Indus Valley civilisation, and is thus part of her heritage.
Her affair with terracotta started off as a hobby. But then it turned into a passion. “Terracotta has become my passion,” she said. “I like to create with it because the end product is within the range of a man who, let’s say, can’t afford to buy a painting worth thousands of rupees. It’s an effort to bring out affordable art.”
It’s not just terracotta
Decoration is perhaps another of Ali’s inspirations. She made beautiful, ornate wall hangings that had nine patches in each. They were four in all, of which, one was a ‘Loh-e-Qurani’.
The recurring pattern of nine patches gave the artworks a strong quality, considering the importance of the number in numerology.
Another interesting piece is the lamp shade that she made a creative pattern on. She used cutwork to paint a sun that, when the lamp illuminates, lightens up. The yellow light of the lamp bulb creates a beautiful scene.
Out of the box
Ali works with Sindhi craftsmen and others in a collective atmosphere. She is quite impressed by what these craftsmen have to offer as their perceptions have not been conditioned into a predetermined way of thinking.
“These craftsmen did not go to schools that killed their creativity,” she said. “They are capable of thinking out of the box. At times, I assist them. At others, they assist me.”