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     Volume 5 Issue 113 | September 22, 2006 |

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From Rags to Works of Art!

Elita Karim

An artist is like a magician. It is the way an artist handles colours, shapes, and materials, blending them with the media at hand to create something quite extraordinary that attracts art lovers and holds their attention. Even pieces of rags put together and strewn over with colours and other elements can end up looking like the perfect masterpiece.

Md. Shamim Reza is an artist whose work always has a touch of eccentricity. In the latest designs that he came up with for Jatra, one of the most popular stores for handicrafts and clothes in Banani. Reza collected waste material from garment factories and recycled them by putting them together, to come up with unconventional motifs and patterns.

Thirty-year-old Reza was selected to work as an intern at Jatra. “I got to know through one of my professors at the Charukala Institute that Anusheh Anadil was looking for an intern,” says Reza. “I joined immediately and began to design with whatever I could get my hands on. I worked with media like metal and wood, I worked on garments and jewellery as well. But my latest project got me a lot of response compared to the previous creations.”

At the Jatra office, Reza, while experimenting at the tailor section with lots of strewn wastes, created a collage of artwork “After I made a rough sample, I showed it to Anusheh, which she liked very much”, says Reza. Eventually, with the help of five experienced women designers, Reza brought his ideas to life working with them for months together. “We worked on every single detail, no matter how insignificant it seemed to many at that time,” he says. “I worked on the kind of thread that would be used, the balancing of colours, shapes of the pieces to be put together until the others got the hang of what exactly I was trying to express. They did a very good job indeed.”

Eventually, this peculiar project of transforming waste into works of art involved around 80 women from Bakal, a village in Barisal. They received similar training from Reza and the five women who worked him and are now recreating his designs to be sold in Jatra.

Titled 'Rag Picked Colours', Reza's colourful collage of wastes has been applied on cushion covers, bed sheets, magazine holders, pencil holders, tissue box covers, room dividers, bags and wall hangings. “I view this more as a form of art, rather than a design concept which is being used to jazz up simple household items,” he says. “I used the ideas that I acquired during my study at the Charukala Institute and am thankful to all my professors and everyone else who inspired me in my work.”

Due to frequent session jams, Reza completed his Bachelors and Masters studies from the institution after 12 years of studying. “For my thesis, I presented my work from 'Rag Picked Colours' and passed in the first class first division.”

Samples from the 'Rag Picked Colours' were exhibited at the Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts from September 11 to September 16. The display of these simple products attracted a lot of visitors to the gallery.

Shamim Reza

Reza has been working and experimenting for the last one year, eventually becoming a full-fledged employee of Jatra, gaining a position as one of the designers. “I had absolute freedom while working, experimenting and creating in Jatra,” says Reza. “I believe this to be one of the most important elements behind every artist's success.”



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