10th Pakistan Mountain Festival kicks off with online art exhibition


Islamabad – The 10th edition of Pakistan Mountain Festival kicked off with an online exhibition of paintings titled “The Colours of Margalla Hills” on Thursday. As many as 17 oil-on-canvas paintings, one each of an artist from twin-cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, have put on display on the Facebook page of the Pakistan Mountain Festival. The paintings are done in a live painting competition in the Margalla Hills National Park. The objective of the activity was to capture the beauty and the biological diversity of the mountain environment.

The participating artists are Riffat Ara Baig, Marriam Rasool, Beenish Azam, Saima Ashraf, Beenish Ali, Mahsoun Mustafa, Mobin Abbas, Sana Sagheer, Samina Azhar, Sadia Ali, Fadia, Madiha Usman, Mariyam Mushtaq, Fizza Azhar, Shumaila, and Abeera Habib.

Pakistan Mountain Festival is an annual flagship event of Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) to celebrate the United Nations International Mountain Day (IMD) that is marked worldwide on December 11. Devcom-Pakistan is the only organization in Pakistan that celebrates mountains and its people and culture very religiously since 2002 – the International Year of Mountains.

Briefing about the painting exhibition, Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed said, “The artists did these paintings on three different spots in the Margalla Hills National Park. We invited all the female art teachers of the twin cities to take part in it. It was a rare opportunity for the very busy female art teachers who hardly find time to continue exploring their own creative passion. Most of the time, they are teaching and grooming their students and taking care of their families. On-the-spot painting for art teachers was a creative retreat and continuity of their expression for the projection and mainstreaming of the mountain’s ecosystems. I believe that art can be used in multiple ways to enhance aesthetics in society leading to conservation and protection of nature to cleansing of the social environment.

He said, the work is very meaningful and up to quality standards but due to new normal we have to go for an online exhibition instead of an art gallery just to observe the SOPs against the Covid-19. However the effort is to environmentally sensitise teachers especially those teaching art. They can give a push to the environmental conservation efforts through aesthetically enriched visuals. There is a need to engage and sensitise teachers their active role in the conservation efforts. A sensitised teacher is more effective than anyone else in the society because of the social status that a teacher enjoys in the society.”

Riffat Ara Baig, coordinator of the competition said, “It was quite unusual for the art teachers to take part in the competition when they organise such events for their students. Competing to explore and be recognised for their creativity as experienced teachers and practicing artists, the response has been very exciting and encouraging. The enthusiasm of the art teachers showed their passion to be competitive even in this phase of life.”

Ms. Baig said that several art teachers have asked to expand the scope of the initiative to make it a permanent programme to be able to develop and groom a devoted group of art-activists to engage youth and their families in awareness raising. This way, outreach can also be established in the communication of climate change and other relevant subjects.

Beenish Ali, one of the participants said, “I would like to say thanks for organizing and arranging such a competition to appreciate nature, and especially in this time and age when life is going on so speedily that we don’t have time to stand and stare and appreciate the beauty of nature, it has been a wonderful platform for the nature lovers. Nature can have a profound effect on our senses; the gateways from the outer world to the inner were really enjoyable. Everything was positive and well organized, and the feedback on what was happening the entire way was an awesome experience.”