As the country (Bangladesh) retracts back to its normal busy self, a two day hartal seemingly goes by without much damage. I escaped into a coffee shop and read for a little while (The Science and Practice of Drawing) as part of my continual learning process. It seems it has become a challenge for me to do even this. What am I interested in, with all this drawing? I questioned myself today again.
How do I draw injustice and do justice to the Art produced? How do I show the struggle of everyday life, the inefficiency of the urban landscape, the toil and sweat that invisible souls produce to keep this city beating? How do I portray the beauty and the magnificent human beings that do this work? How do I express my admiration and love for the people that quietly get on with their struggle. How can I, or we, show these hard working souls that there is someone out there that acknowledges their struggle?
The purpose of Art continues to bring forward thoughts that I am uncomfortable with, it disturbs me to no end, and I am learning to look. I am enjoying the process of developing the technique and reading about those things that are personal to me. And when I am being introspective, looking at the space that I inhabit, versus the space that others inhabit, there seems to be very different thoughts that emerge.
I fly back to London on Friday morning, and the fear I have is that I will stop drawing when I get there, I don’t have that many subjects. What is it that inspired me to draw whilst being in Dhaka, and that does not excite me about London so much?
I think Dhaka disturbs me, the daily practice of majority of its dwellers, the daily struggle pains me, I can do little about it, it puts me in despair and I hope, through drawing these people, I portray how beautiful they are. As we continue our work with Paraa in developing our projects, it dawns on me the tasks that we have set ourselves are not small. We push, because we owe it to ourselves to become the best of who we can be through our art. It will take time.
A gruelling bus journey back from Rangamati, but we were able to get a real sense of what the city is struggling with – its political history, its identity and most importantly, its shared future – one that still needs to be planned and developed with the people at the centre of it. In all, the only lake city in the country, with potential to become something beautiful.
The crowd drawing is of people worshipping and singing in a Krishna Mandir by the lake in Rangamati. It gave me some space to think also about culture and religion. The young boy works on cultivating ‘Shutki’ on one of the tiny islands that are stark reminders of what it was before the lake was created, the politics of land here is fascinating – more to follow in the months to come. Despite it all, the few Chakma people we have spoken to, including the nephew of the current King, put the idea of respecting the human being before everything else, even citing the Israel/Palestine case as an example of their situation.