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Thursday, July 16, 2009

125 Years of Excellence, National College of Arts, Lahore. (2000-11)

Like all old institutions, the National College of Arts, has a historical tradition. Much of its present tone was set long when it was known as the Mayo School of Arts. Gazetteers written about the city of Lahore in 1915 describe the work being done at the school as one of the cultural highlights of the urban center.
A teacher of painting and sculpture Lockwood Kipling, working then in Bombay, school of arts and crafts was appointed its first Principal parallel to his charge of the Curator of the Lahore Museum.
The Mayo School was intended to be a technical college in the beginning. Lockwood Kipling the curator-Principal allowed the functions of the museum and the school to merge in a creative manner.
The school had proper workshops equipped with tools and machines. In 1902 four large machine workshops and photolithographic studio were already functioning. By 1911, nearly a lakh of rupees worth of machinery and tools were being operated in the school for such diverse crafts as jewelry, cotton-printing, bookbinding, cabinet making, light-metal work, carpentry and blacksmithy.
By 1915 the work done at the school was recognized all over India and also in England. The principal works executed by its craftsmen were thus located:
Wood-carving, plaster-work and interior in Barnes Court, Simla; Government House, Lahore; Circuit House, designs for amphitheater at the Delhi Darbar; execution of decorative work including carpets and shamianas of gold thread and repusse metal work and designs for the Law and Oriental Colleges, Lahore; design and decorative work in plaster for the new Railway Theatre, Lahore; a carved console table for Government House, Lahore; Punjab carving for the Billiard Room of Bag shot Park, England for the Duke of Connaught; an eight canon stalls for the Lefory Memorial in Lahore Cantonment\'s Church.
In 1958 the school was upgraded by the then West Pakistan Government into the National College of Arts. The craft and industry oriented structure of the school, which has provided much needed early nurturance to such diverse occupations as carpentry lacquer-work btacksmI1~V, goldsmithy, silversmithy, pottery, needlework, architectural draftsmanship, sanitation, plumbing, civil engineering and commercial art, was updated and confined to three departments Fine Arts, Design and Architecture.
The changed structure of the College allowed proper focus on Fine Arts. The department began to train new talent in modern and traditional painting, graphic art and sculpture. The Department of Design began to turn out professionals textile design. Publicity Design, Product Design and Ceramics. The rapidly growing demand in the building sector for architects began to be met by the College, together with other professional universities of the country. In 1963, the Government recognized the College as the premier arts institution in Pakistan, was taken away from the Department of Industries and placed under the Education Department with its own Board of Governors. The new policy in 1972 further recognized the achievements of the college and planned its development into a center of Excellence in the Visual Arts. A high-powered Board of Governors was constituted to ensure a measure of autonomy under the Federal Ministry of Education.
The College specializes in production of a certain kind of artistic work, which at once satisfies the creative demands of a work of art and the more pragmatic requirements of a profession. One of the leading architects of Pakistan, Nayyar Ali Dada, an old student and a member of the Board of Governors of the College combines the talents of an architect with facility of drawing.
This capacity of the college graduates to apply art to specific projects has allowed them to take on projects in various fields. They have helped design primary school buildings and produce new building material for construction. They prepared a visual study of the indigenous architecture of Pakistan for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture ceremonies, Lahore.
Since 1963 when the present college was invested with a new arts structure, it has carried courses in three departments, Architecture, Fine Arts and Design. All these courses are professional and enable the graduate to relate his talent to the job market.
In 1985, through an ordinance the college has been granted the status of an autonomous degree awarding institution and now awards Bachelor Degrees in Fine Arts, Design and Architecture. The ordinance also empowers the institution to institute postgraduate programmes in the field of Visual Arts. Some of these programmes are at the planning stage now. An MA (Hon) in Visual Arts and M.Phil in Communication and Cultural Studies have started from this year. It is hoped that post graduate programmers will lead NCA to realize its potential as a Center for Excellence in Visual arts in Pakistan.
Courtesy: National College of Arts Lahore
To commemorate the 125th Anniversary of the National College of Arts Lahore Pakistan Post Office is issuing a commemorative Postage stamp of Ps. 5/- denomination on October 28, 2000.