Sunday, 24 June 2012


Artist: Athar Abbas
This picture is not made with the artist's preferred materials, but relies on oils and papier mache and actual pieces of jewellery which Mr. Abbas found on the street, which probably belonged to children as the pieces are very small and faux bijoux. These are on the forehead and in the ear of the woman.
  Her face is two-dimensional, made from paper, and as you can see, the white and pink makeup on the face are not the same skin tone as that of her shoulder which is not quite concealed by her dupatta or shawl..
   In both Pakistan and India it is desirable to have fair skin and women use creams and lotions to make their skin fair.
  Often women and perhaps men are coerced, rather than forced into an arranged marriage, and the sadness on this bride's face seems to suggest that this is her plight.
  The artist usually does not feature people in his pictures, and this is a rare example. Only the signature frame with crushed stones in the corner shows that this is the work of Mr. Athar Abbas.

Friday, 22 June 2012


Artist: Athar Abbas

This work is set in the African continent as is Zebras at a Water Hole, but this demonstrates the cruel side of Nature and the struggle for survival. The tiger has bloody chops, and the deer has been disemboweled
  Both animals are carved in wood and then painted, so that they are two-dimensional and stand out from the crushed stones that fill most of the picture.
  The trees are made of pieces of twig and herbs and the bushes in the background is also made from herbs.
  The artist's signature is again seen in the crushed stones set into the corners of the wooden frame which the artist has made.
  Mr. Abbas has never been to Africa, but says that he enjoys watching programmes on TV about African animals, and these programmes were his inspiration for the two pictures.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012


Artist: Athar Abbas
This is an unusual picture from Mr. Abbas, as it has more oil paint than usual. The boat and tree are two-dimensional and made of wood, with the tree being part of an actual branch.
  The mountain is made from large stones while the foreground on the left of the picture is made from crushed stones and herbs along the stream's banks.
  It is difficult to ascertain whether it is dusk or dawn, but with the stark outline of a dead tree, and the dark colours of the water it looks as though the place is barren, and polluted, with the small pale-blue boat in the centre of the stream attesting to the presence of people - the polluters.
  The wooden frame is hand-made by the artist with his signature - crushed stones, in the corners.

Monday, 18 June 2012


Artist: Athar Abbas

The ship is carved out a wood and then painted. The cable is cotton and is three-dimensional, while the ship is two-dimensional. It really does stand out from the background well. It has clearly just left port and is polluting both the sea and the atmosphere, and Mr Abbas emphasizes this with the blackness of the smoke coming out of the funnels. The wake left by the ship is a dirty colour, which contrasts with the bright blue of the sky. The sea around the land, which is made from crushed stones, also looks polluted.
  In this picture Mr. Abbas again has no people visible although the pollution they cause is clear.
  The distinctive signature frames and made by the artist and the corners are filled with crushed, varnished stones.


Artist: Athar Abbas

This work marks another digression away from Pakistan. Mr Abbas says that he is interested in all animals, especially donkeys, which he calls "social workers" and the wild African animals.
  In this picture, the zebras are carved from pieces of wood and then painted; they and the trees in the background (which are made from twigs and herbs) are two dimensional.
  The foreground is composed of crushed stones and the pool and sky have been painted with oils.
  The wooden frame is handmade with crushed stones in the corners which are the artist's signature.

Saturday, 16 June 2012


Artist: Athar Abbas
This work by the Pakistan artist Athar Abbas is on a similar theme to that of the Pyramid and Sphinx, and the sky is rather like that in Alhambra Evening.
Athar Abbas has never been to Africa or the Middle East, but is fascinated by the animals of the African continent as can be seen in some other examples of his work such as the Zebras at the Waterhole.
  There are small camels in Pakistan, but they are not as big as those that I have seen in North Africa.(I was bitten by one in Morocco, but that's another story.) The camels in this picture are carved from wood and the desert, shaded in the evening sunlight, is made from crushed brick and stone. The camels are two-dimensional, trudging through the desert.
  The hand-made frame is the artist's distinctive signature, with varnished crushed stones in the corners of the frame.

Friday, 15 June 2012


Artist: Athar Abbas

The artist is interested in ancient Egypt and created this picture of the large pyramid with the sphinx, battered by sand and the weather, as well as people, in wood and stone, his preferred working materials.
  The pyramid, sphinx and archaeological excavation tools and construction are made from wood which was carved into shape by the artist. These are two-dimensional so stand out from the stones which comprise the sand in the picture.
  This marks a divergence form the landscapes of Pakistan, and the African continent figures in some of his work from this period.

Thursday, 14 June 2012



This is another in the series of Pakistani landscapes with houses in them. At the forefront of the picture is a two-dimensional village well, made from dried, fired mud with the village buildings being made from wood.
  Once again the trees are made from twigs and herbs, and there's a carved wooden two-dimensional cow drinking from he village pond.
  The foreground is made from crushed bricks and stone, with the cultivated fields being made from herbs and soil.
  The mosques was carved out of wood and again is two-dimensional.
  The frame is hand-made with the signature crushed, varnished stones in the corners.
  It is a favourite of mine, and really looks like a Punjabi village seen from a distance.

Monday, 11 June 2012


Artist: Athar Abbas

This owl is another story prop, and is made out of white polystyrene and paper, with the beak carved out of a small piece of wood. Its feathers are made of paper which has been painted.Its claws are painted pieces of carved wood.
  It is perched on a twig so that it can be easily held to illustrate a story, just like the two frogs

This owl can be used to illustrate this story too, which is again for young children. There are comprehension questions which can be asked so that you are sure the story has been understood.
  Of course there are many owl stories, which this owl could usefully illustrate, this is just one example.

Detail of paper feathers

                                    Hoot The Happy Owl

Hoot the owl had a bad night. He couldn’t find any food. He looked for a nice juicy mouse, but there weren’t any. He was hungry and perched on a tree to rest.
    His head turned from side to side as he looked for something to eat. Nothing moved. It was very still. Hoot was very unhappy and decided to go back to his nest. He had babies in the nest and wanted to find food for them. They were growing and needed food more than he did.
   Poor Hoot.
   On his way back to the nest, he saw something moving and flew silently down to catch it.
    He was very quick and very lucky.  He caught a rat and although it was big, flew back to his nest with it.

     a)     What was Hoot doing in this story?

     b) Why wasn’t the owl happy?

     c) Why did Hoot want to take the food back to his nest?

     d)  What did Hoot find?

     e)       In your own words, write about what Hoot was
            doing and how he felt.  

Sunday, 10 June 2012


Artist: Athar Abbas
Traditional Japanese Folktale, retold for younger children

A long time ago in ancient Japan, there were two frogs. One lived in Osaka and one lived in Kyoto. These two cities are a very long way from each other, so it was not likely that the two frogs would ever meet.
  One day the frog from Kyoto was thinking about his grandmother, who had come form Osaka.She told him that Osaka was a wonderful place for frogs to live; it was clean and the air was healthy.Kyoto frog thought about the damp ditch which was his home. Before it had been clean and pleasant, but now it was getting full with rubbish that people were throwing in it, and it was beginning to smell very nasty.
  He thought for a while, and looked around him, then decided to leave his smelly ditch and go to Osaka. Away he hopped without looking back at his old home.
  At about the same time the frog from Osaka was really bored with his life in a clean stream close to Osaka. Nothing ever happened there and he wanted adventure. He had heard other frogs say that Kyoto was a good place for adventurous young frogs, and for weeks he had been thinking of going there. 
  At the sane tine as the Kyoto frog was setting off from Kyoto, the Osaka frog said "Good bye!" to the frogs that lived in his stream and hopped off in the direction of Kyoto.

 The two frogs hopped and hopped until they were very, very tired, but there in front of each of them was a mountain. "Oh dear!" they both sighed, but hopped slowly up the mountain - each of them hopping up on opposite sides of it. When the Kyoto frog got to the top of the mountain he was very surprised to see another frog. He was very happy though because he thought that the frog might live close by in a cool stream where he could wet his tired pads,
  :"Hello!" the two frogs said at the same time. :Where do you live?" asked the Osaka frog, hoping the other frog would say that he lived nearby.
"Miles away. I come from Kyoto! Where do you live?"
"I come from Osaka. What are you doing here?"
"My home is becoming dirty. People are throwing rubbish into it so I though I could go to Osaka. My grandmother came from there and said it was a beautiful place for frogs."
"I come from Osaka: said the other frog "My home in a clean, clear stream is very boring, so I am going to find adventure in Kyoto."
  The two frogs decided to sit and chat and rest their tired pads for a while. They talked about their homes and why they were leaving them.
  Finally one of the frogs had an idea,
  "If we stand up on our back legs and hold each other up, we can see the city we are going to."
  "That's a wonderful idea. Let's do it" said the other frog.
  So they stood up and the Kyoto frog was facing Osaka and the Osaka frog was facing Kyoto..
They stood for a while and then got back to the ground. They were sad.
"Kyoto looks just the same as Osaka" said the Osaka frog.
"Osaka looks exactly like Kyoto" said the Kyoto frog.
They looked at each other and said "If both places are exactly the same, there's no point in leaving home."
 They said good bye to each other and hopped back to their homes. Neither frog ever went travelling again,.

Ask the children why the frogs saw their home town when they stood up. The answer is that the way their eyes are positioned they can't see what is in front of them, only what is behind them. They had forgotten this when they stood up. (This is why the two frogs are different colours.)
Ask if the story has a happy or sad end. The children can then debate this point. Some think it's good to stay at home while others feel it would be better to travel and see new things.

Using props like these make stories more interesting for young children. You can make the frogs hop as they are attached to a stick, but the small statue with the frogs on top of the mountain is a little more tricky. However if you make the two frogs correctly, you can hold them upright to illustrate the same point.


Artist: Athar Abbas

This picture is made with wood, stone, herbs and salt, with the colours being oil paint. The mountain is made with larger stones, while smaller stones have been used to fill in the foreground. Salt forms the snow on the mountains, which has been whitened with oil paint.
  This picture shows a village in Swat valley, and some of the stepping stones have been submerged as the stream is higher than normal due to snow melt from the mountains. The small wooden bridge spans the stream and this has been carved by hand. The trees are made with pieces of twigs and herbs.The tree trunk in the right hand corner is for people to sit on although as usual there are no people in this picture. You can only see traces of them in the buildings and bridge.
  The environment is as pristine as it can be given that people inhabit it. This is a recurring theme in Mr. Abbas's work.
  The artist's wooden signature frame has crushed stones in the corners.

Saturday, 9 June 2012


Artist: Athar Abbas
The mountains in the background are made from large stones, while the buildings and ladder are carved from wood and finished with stones.The trees are made with pieces of twigs and herbs.
  The wooden frames with crushed stones in the corners are the artist's signature frames.
  The house is a typical example of one found in Gilgit, in Gilgit-Balastan in remote valleys. It is quite primitive in some of thee rural areas, as water has to be carried to homes, and there is no electricity.
  The artist would actually love to live in a valley such as this- if it were not populated. There are never people in his works, you will notice. He loves to be close to Nature and such a house would be his ideal, although he might miss electricity to recharge his laptop!

Alhambra Evening - Sunset through Moorish Arch

Artist: Mr. Athar Abbas

This is another example of this artist's work, with the main structure being carved from wood. At the top of the structure there are crushed stones made to look like bricks. The white is crushed marble as used in the picture of the Taj Mahal. The decorative items in the arches are carved from wood, so the whole picture is two-dimensional. Oil paints were used to create the sunset effect,
   The frame is handmade of wood with crushed stones in the corners, a signature of this artist.
    What do you think?

Taj Mahal - Symbol of Love and Beauty

Artist: Athar Abbas

Everyone knows the story of the building of the Taj Mahal, commissioned by Shah Jehan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz, However it is possible that somewhere in this magnificent building the master craftsmen made a deliberate flaw. There is/was a belief that only Allah (God) can be perfect and as it is wrong to imitate Him, people cannot create something without there being a flaw - even if that flaw is deliberate.
    Mr. Athar Abbas has made this picture with wood, marble and herbs. It is two dimensional apart from the two minarets at the front of the picture which are three dimensional. The wooden frame is handmade with the crushed stones at the corners being a trademark of this artist.
  What do you think of this?