Gemstones add extra sparkle to rare craftsmanship by Pakistani artist

QUETTA: When Barishna Reki was brainstorming ideas for her graduation thesis as she finished her fine arts degree in 2019, she wanted to work on a project that would one day help turn her passion for painting into one. financially viable career.

Reki, now 25, from the remote town of Mashkail in the southwestern province of Balochistan and a graduate of Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University two years ago, came up with the idea of ​​using traditional Baluch jewelry to add extra sparkle to his paintings.

The project she submitted for her classes has now become her life’s work. Reki’s designs, which combine paint and jewelry like a lavish golden embrace in a Gustav Klimt painting, have garnered a lot of attention on social media.

In addition, she sold four pieces, one of which for 175,000 rupees ($ 1,000) to Pakistani actress Zeba Bakhtiar. Another creation is on sale for 275,000 rupees in a shopping center in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan.

Last year, Reki also established her own boutique, Charisma Studios, which has become a space of passion and business for other female artists from Balochistan who wish to make a living from their art.

In this impoverished province – Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest province in terms of area but the least populated and underdeveloped – it is no small feat for a 25-year-old woman. Less than 10 percent of women in the region currently own their own businesses, according to the Balochistan Businesswomen’s Association.

“I was creative since I was a kid but never intended to be an artist because my parents wanted me to be a doctor or an engineer,” she told Arab News.

Even though Reki knew how difficult the journey ahead would be and how few opportunities a career in art offered, she was not deterred.

“When I was doing my thesis, I decided to do something different and creative for the people of Balochistan. “

Reki recently completed 15 pieces of varying sizes, the largest of 2.4 by 1.2 meters, using natural precious and semi-precious stones and ornamental buttons combined with watercolors and oil paintings. Some pieces use old jewelry donated by her mother. Others use ornamental man-made pieces bought from friends or from local landfills in Quetta.

“From the start, I wanted to work on a large scale,” Reki said. His first work of mixed art was nearly three meters tall and lasted three months.

Aiman ​​Islam, 28, a design consultant at Charisma Studio, said she saw Reki’s work on a social media website three months ago and was inspired to contact her.

“I had expertise in design consulting and couldn’t find a good job at Quetta, but now under the umbrella of Charisma Studio I’m working on three projects which I hope will be beneficial for them. unemployed artists in the province, ”Islam said.

Amina Malik Mengal, 24, trained in biochemistry, said she practiced calligraphy in school but gave up on the idea of ​​becoming a professional artist due to a lack of professional prospects.

“But after meeting Barishna Reki and getting to know Charisma Studio, I rekindle my passion with other artists,” Mengal said. “There are many versatile artists in Balochistan who are looking for help and appreciation.”

Muhaddisa Batool, 30, graduated in Fine Arts in 2015 but never had the opportunity to pursue her passion. However, through Charisma Studios, she had secured two pencil sketch orders, which she sold in September. “Now I’m looking for more orders,” Batool said.

Reki said she was grateful and happy to be able to help struggling artists in Balochistan. With this in mind, she published a book called “Charismas” which she described as a self-help guide for young people in Balochistan who have lost hope due to a lack of creative opportunities.

Muhammad Asif Kasi, a painter and sculptor from Balochistan with over 24 years of experience, said Reki’s trade was “rare”.

“Instead of using more colors on canvas, Barishna used jewelry which is an exclusive idea,” Kasi said, adding that he hoped Reki would continue to pursue his passion and inspire other women in Balochistan. to do so as well.

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