It was nothing short of a museum piece. When I heard of the tapestry that Bunto Apa (as she is lovingly and respectfully called) had created, I dropped all prior engagements and trekked across to Muhammad Ali Society, where she resides. Anyone who’s visited Bunto Kazmi’s exotic atelier will vouch for its intricate splendour; today it looked extra special as everyone there was standing around this 7 foot long tapestry and just admiring it in silence.
It was nothing short of spectacular. Created for a Private Collector (who wishes to remain unnamed) this work of art had taken over a year to finish, soaking up almost 10 days of labour per day. Three master craftsman had worked on it – their names are embroidered into the landscape along with Bunto Apa’s – and she humbly and extremely modestly called it their labour of love.
This could not have materialized had it not been for her vision and passion.
Thirteen or so iconic landmarks were chosen and surveyed to capture the kind of details that only a perfectionist would notice: the shades of sandstone stone, the unique textures of leaves and plants around each building, the variety of roof tops and the overall character of each place. Architectural landmarks had been documented and immortalized on this midnight blue jamevar silk canvas. The gentleman to whom this masterpiece now belongs, has requested for a skyline under a starry night and so the stars twinkled merrily. Even they were not placed at random but in constellation.
You can spot the Mohatta Palace and the Merriweather Clock Tower, the Hindu Gymkhana and the St Patrick’s Cathedral. The Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine is decorated with a row of merry green jhandis and the Masjid Arambagh is etched in full glory. A white, winged Faravahar symbolizes the Parsi community that has shaped what Karachi stands for through time and the Empress Market glorifies its prosperous past. Is it all reminiscence of a lost era? The tapestry has incredibly positive energy, radiating pride and hope rather than desolation. And it has taken commitment to bring it together.
There were times when the fabric would give way, Bunto Apa explained the tedious process of constructing this visibly flawless piece. Each strand of thread had to be split into three threads and then embroidered into the landscape. The buildings were drawn in perspective, thus the three dimensional effect. The foliage was given additional textures; techniques were used to raise the surface of each leaf and lend grain to the grass. It was quite amazing.
This particular tapestry will travel thousands of miles across the Atlantic to honour an art enthusiast’s home. But one can hope that this will be the first in a series of similar skylines that Bunto Apa choses to immortalize and display for people to admire.