The Colour Players

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Kashmir has always been renowned for its beauty. Little wonder, then that our protagonists find inspiration in all things Kashmir. Kashmir, it seems is part of the work, the colors of Kashmir is part of their life and are always getting reflected in their work.

Two young school students living at two different locations, for them painting is a passion and two women who are established fashion designers have the colors of Kashmir flowing not just in their work, but also in the homes they built.

Whether they are based in Kashmir or out of it hardly seems to be of significance. What does tie them to their roots is their Kashmiriyat.

In this concluding part of the four-part series dedicated to women of Kashmiri origin, salutes the creative spirit of all that is beauteous about Kashmir.



Malik Irtiza, Painter, Srinagar

Irtiza had been painting since her childhood. “I was always attracted to colors and would spend money on buying them, as I wanted to satisfy my urge of creating something new,” she says. But it was in 2011, when she painted her first observation. “It was a scenario of Kashmir I had picked up along the streets.”

Calling it more than just a hobby, Irtiza says “it is a gift Allah has bestowed me with and I am going to make it better.” “My every expression, observation and experience is frozen in colors.”

She says everything inspires her. “My teacher, Qalab Hussain was the first one to guide me. K. Asif Iqbal, Adil Mubeen have been my gurus.” Irtiza was lucky to get encouragements and support from her family. “I never heard “stop painting” warning. Allah has been merciful to me,” she says.

In most of her work till now, there is a reflection of Kashmir. “I also do calligraphy. After contemplating on verses in the holy Quran, I transform that understanding into an artwork,” she says. She is also thinking of incorporating the changing political scenario in the Arab world in her work.



Anu Raina, Fashion Designer, Canada

Although she grew up in the family that appreciated art and craft but making it a career was not recognized or encouraged. “I tried to follow the norm too and graduated in Biology but I felt stifled,” says Anu Raina, who is a fashion designer based in Canada. “I was always a creative kind, and playing with colors and fabrics made me happy. So I decided to become a designer,” she adds.

Her brother encouraged her to follow her heart, which was eventually supported by the entire family.

Her debut collection at Toronto Fashion week was all hand dyed and printed by her, inspired by her childhood memories in Kashmir. “My grandmother was the biggest influence on my life as a kid. She was the first one to introduce me to the craft of hand dyeing. Little did I know that I would choose Textiles as my career path in life,” she says.

Currently she is working on her next collection F/W 2014, titled ‘T.O’. “I have been invited to show at the Toronto Fashion Week in March.”

Anu says she is in awe Kashmiri gems like Gulam Hassan Sufi, Naseem Akhtar, Shamima Dev, Vijay Malla, Bashir Badgami, Pandit Bhajan Sopori, late Shanti Kaul. She relishes Kashmiri food and misses the “sweet memories from Kashmir.”



Samina Khan, Fashion Designer, New Delhi

From being a science graduate to an advocate, and then finally settling on fashion designing, Samina says, “it has been quite a journey. Yes, it might seem whimsical but that is how I am.”

Having living in Delhi for 25 years, Samina says she yearns for Kashmir. “I am a Kashmiri and Kashmiri things are dear to me. It reflects in my work.”

Samina has also witnessed a change in Kashmiri taste. “Previously, people had very less taste for fashion and would go for safe designs and colours. Now they want different materials, designs and vibrant colours. The cut and styles of dresses matters to them,” she says.

She says in Delhi, people love Kashmiri designs. “It sells very well if it is ethnic Kashmiri work and authentic in nature. I don’t like mixing modern with traditional embroideries, and that is how I keep them traditional.”

She is married into a Punjabi family but says she wants a tinge of Kashmir everywhere around her. “Be it my food, my walnut furniture, my copper utensils, nun chai or Kehwah.”  “Crewel curtains, Kashmiri carpets and namdas decorate my home. I breathe, eat and sleep Kashmir. Kashmir is a cultural hub of softness, friendliness, humor, hospitability and generosity. I try to live up to it,” she says.



Pearl Raina, Painter, USA

11-year-old Pearl Koul is studying 5th grade at Stevens Creek Elementary in Cupertino, Northen California. She started painting when she was 4 and since then she has done more than 100 pieces of art in various media  – pencil, oil pastel, water-color, color-pencil, charcoal, glass, scratch-boards etc.

Her real passion is art. “I enjoy doing sketches and portraits the most mostly because the complexity and simplicity of playing with the features fascinate me,” she says. To re-energize her creative batteries, she likes to immerse in other activities like Taek-wondo, astronomy, and gymnastics. “Somewhere there, I find the inspiration for the next creative reflection.”

She says her pre-school teacher was her influence. “Stacy Maldonado was my first influence who encouraged me to draw and play with colors. My parents saw this and have supported me ever since,” she says.

Even though most of the art contests have the age criteria as 16 years, Pearl has already participated in a few art contests and mostly local events that come her way. She also sent paintings to President Obama during the Re-election campaign and received the acknowledgement from the President’s office.