February issue 2009
Art on the Open Road
Rickshaws, trucks and buses all across Pakistan serve as a mobile canvas for artists and poets who express themselves in a riot of colours, prose and witty comments. Anjum Rana — the person behind the organisation, Tribal Truck Art — is committed to preserving this unique heritage and culture by getting these artists to paint various objects such as storage boxes, mugs, pedestal fans, urns, garden benches and much more. In recognition of her efforts, Rana was awarded the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Handicrafts 2008.
By having these artists reproduce their work on relatively smaller household objects, Rana has managed to cater to not just the local market, but to a global one as well. Tribal Truck Art started six years ago when Rana had a box painted by one of the artists. Since then she has employed master craftsmen to recreate their art — thus bringing this form of art into the mainstream. In September 2005, Rana and one of the painters were invited to the Film and Arts Festival in Scotland to paint a truck for the film, Nina’s Heavenly Delights.
However, Rana feels that due to the rising prices of paint and materials, not many trucks these days are being painted with the same fervour. “I feel that in the city, truck art isn’t as common anymore. But I can’t say the same about the Northern Areas.” Fortunately for art enthusiasts, Anjum Rana has translated this folk art into products that can be brought into our homes as collectible items, not to mention conversation pieces.