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Talk by Mr. Fazil Mousavi founder of Sketch Club from Quetta Pakistan

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The Glass Tank

Abercrombie Buliding

Oxford Brookes University

Oxford

OX3 0BP

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Lunch time guided talk: Mr. Fazil Mousavi founder of Sketch Club (Exhibiting artist)

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The Sketch Club has received a lot of attention through their international exhibitions in Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles. Founded in 2009 in Quetta Pakistan the purpose was to for Fazil to give back to society by transferring skills and knowledge to the youth of the Hazara community. Fazil shares how the Hazara community responds to the different forms of stigmatisation through creativity.

Background of the Sketch Club

Syed Fazil Hussain, most commonly known in Quetta as Fazil Mousavi or Sir Fazil amongst his current and former students, founded the informal setup of the Sketch Club in 2009. The purpose of the club was to give back to the society by transferring his skills and knowledge to the youth of the Hazara community. However, the vision of such an institution did not come without the hurdles. It took many years to find the perfect spot where students are inspired by the stunning views of the mountains on the roof top of a building where they have the opportunity to paint in broad daylight.

Currently, there are around 20 students enrolled and the classes run from Monday to Friday between the hours of 14:00 to 16:30. Friday’s are dedicated to theory sessions through which the students learn how to critique different paintings, build their confidence and also indulge in literature such as Krishan Chander (dubbed as the storyteller of the oppressed), Ghulam Abbas (a famous writer in classical literature of the sub-continent), Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi (known as Pakistan's Renaissance Man). Moving away from fiction, the students also read essays of Ashfaq Ahmed (award winning writer from Pakistan in the field of literature and broadcasting). However, Fazil Mousavi is very mindful of the students’ background, cultural values and social norms. Keeping in mind of all the elements, he only chooses the fictions that the students are able to comprehend. Through such teaching techniques, Fazil Mousavi notes that ‘the students are also members of the society and in my class, they get the opportunity to speak and they speak openly, with freedom’.

Almost all of the professional colleges in Pakistan are aware of this informal setup in Quetta because the former students of the Sketch Club who end up in the professional colleges across Pakistan have an edge compared to the other students because of their confidence and the ability to critique. Currently, there are 14 artists (painters, designers, architects) working professionally, who have studied at the Sketch Club and 36 students are under education in professional colleges. This year alone, 16 students of the Sketch Club entered professional colleges, a figure more than from all over Balochistan Province. One of the former students of the Sketch Club is an internationally renowned artist, an icon whose paintings are displayed worldwide, including the Guggenheim Museum.

The Sketch Club has received a lot of attention through their international exhibitions in Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles. The reason behind gaining this attention was in fact when the staff and students were preparing for an exhibition at Musa College in Quetta and a few days before the event there was a target killing where four Hazara community members were forced out of a bus and brutally killed (most recent attack was on April 12, 2019). What the Sketch Club did in response highlights the resilience of the community towards the atrocities and persecutions, they did not let fear stop them from showcasing the exhibition. Instead, the reaction was such that it helped raise the diminished morale of the community and the turnout was spectacular. The Sketch Club’s pen has in deed proven to be mightier than a sword. This is the reason why Fazil Mousavi and the students of the Sketch Club have agreed to participate in the Human Rights Film Festival of 2020. The paintings will include the work of Fazil Mousavi himself and the students of the Sketch Club.

Fatima Hashmi, CENDEP PhD candidate who was conducting research in Quetta, Pakistan

Past exhibitions and media coverage of Fazil Mousavi and the Sketch Club can be found below:

October 18, 2012: The micro-doc, Between the Lines, follows the story of The Sketch Club from Quetta to the Artful Dodgers Gallery in Collingwood, where its first exhibition in Australia is hosted.

Between the Lines is a story of young Hazara depicting the social circumstances of their country, the genocide of Hazara people and how their new found skills and art has helped them to express the complex issues of injustice and uncertainty, that has also connected them to and inspired Hazara youth who have sought asylum the world over.

November 23, 2013 : The Pakistan Arts Council of Los Angeles, with the support of the Los Angeles Police Department, successfully brought together various members of the Pakistani-American community to showcase the art of the students of the Sketch Club at the Blackstone Gallery in Los Angeles. Confronting Rising Religious Intolerance in Pakistan.

February 16, 2014: Hazara children: Still life, published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine

April 14, 2014 : Herald Exclusive: A dash of colour Keeping the flame of art alive in Balochistan. Published in DAWN Newspaper.

Contact : Fatima Hashmi , PhD Candidate . Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment , Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP). Oxford Brookes University Email: 16128717@brookes.ac.uk

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The Glass Tank

Abercrombie Buliding

Oxford Brookes University

Oxford

OX3 0BP

United Kingdom

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