islamabad-“My father died when I was very young and to me this world was very bland, colourless, and just black and white as if other colours did not exist anymore. My mother raised her young children in difficult circumstances and I have seen poverty from a very close range ”  narrated  one young artist out of 140  choosing the theme “No Poverty “ who got selected for 2017 “We the people, We the Arts “ competition. Her work shows poverty through black and white paintings. An initiative launched by UNIC, Embassy of Switzerland in 2016, We the People, We the Arts has not only made its place in Pakistan,  the concept has been discussed and appreciated  in  international forums as well,  informed  the Swiss ambassador to Pakistan, His Excellency Mr. Thomas Kolly, who was part of the jury as well.  Based on the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, (SDG’S) by the United Nations, the theme of the first year was Zero Hunger, number two on the list out of the 17 goals.

” Zero Hunger is closely related to other SDG goals.  Water, access to justice, child rights  etc, so we received quite a large number of artwork ” explained Head of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)  Ms Stefanie Burri, who had played a pivotal role in launching this project in 2016.  This year it was an open competition, as the artists were not limited to one subject. The entries for this year included Gender Equality, No Poverty, Water management, Life on land and other goals as well. During the first year, entries came in from recognized universities, like NCA Lahore, NCA Rawalpindi, Indus Valley, and University of Peshawar whereas this year the response has been very encouraging as artists from Larkana, Chitral, small cities of Baluchistan have also sent in their entries, informed another jury member,also the Head of Fine Arts Department, National College of Arts, Lahore Mr.  Quddus Mirza.

 “I live in Chitral and every now and then I see cutting of tree for building houses, roads, even for firewood to be used during extreme winters by the households. This not only destroys the forests but also the natural habitat. The animals living in the area and the birds have no place to go. They cannot narrate their problems to anyone so my work was based on “Life on Land” and the plight of these species. I spoke through my canvass, through my colours, informed the young painter from Chitral.

 Giovanni Carmine, who is a director of Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, Zurich and has several years of experience as an independent curator flew in especially from Switzerland for the event.” From the airport to PNCA, where these sculptures, paining and miniature paintings were at display, I had to choose 24. It was a difficult job. I was very impressed by the work on display. There is a lot of potential in the artists in Pakistan.  ” informed Giovanni to the audience when requested by Ms Burri to say a few words. It will not be incorrect to say that their work is larger than life. The paintings speak of diversity; a larger canvass to put colours to and it exposes the darker face of our society, the injustice, the inequality and the vulnerability of the society that we live in.


ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Switzerland Thomas Kolly along with members of the jury for ‘We The People, We the Arts’ competition 2017.