Inside Sarwat Gilani’s Art House

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COVER STORY

Art House by Sarwat Gilani creatively reflects the positive energy of its founder, Sarwat Gilani. During our visit, we were pleasantly surprised by its atmosphere. Actors often choose the field of fashion when they embark on entrepreneurship. It’s rare to see one not only lend their name but also be actively involved in a project, especially if the project is related to arts education. Sarwat, who spoke very fondly, very passionately about her idea to Us during the interview, remained attentive to children who came to her to speak or present their work.

Us: What inspired the Art House project?

OS: During the Covid-19 lockdown, I started online DIY classes. The interaction with the audience made me realize that there was a big divide between children and parents at that time. Mothers asked me how I kept my children “involved and engaged.” The comments showed that as a nation we are starving for healthy activities for our children, not knowing how to encourage them to be interested in arts and crafts. Art House was created as a space where holistic learning could take place. As an artist, I emphasized learning through play for the youngest. As a parent, my goal was to help fathers and mothers become conscious parents.

It’s like the quote from Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn!” Everyone at the Art House is invited to explore what interests them, to become informed and to engage. Programs like self-defense create awareness by telling stories, discussing topics such as “good touch” and “bad touch” that parents typically avoid.

Us: What role do you think art plays in our lives and why are these spaces important to our society?

OS: When you look at other countries, you see that community service is a very important part of people’s lives there. They care about their society; they are enthusiastic about knowing and caring for their environment, teaching underprivileged children, etc. We hardly see it practiced in Pakistan. Art House is a place where we ensure that children develop emotionally, skillfully and socially. Suppose the activity for the day is to make a bird (using a paper plate), then rest assured that it is not only the creative side of the children that is nurtured as it also initiates a conversation about installing bird feeders in our home, helping them understand why it’s critical and how it can be managed. Likewise, if it is an aquatic activity, it is not just about playing and having fun; there is also academic knowledge that is also imparted by teaching them to appreciate nature, to save water in every possible way, to count their blessings if they have access to clean water and to provide it to those who cannot afford it. Thus, therefore, they become responsible individuals and valued members of our society.

A common belief is that art is just games when in reality art is another very important subject, which you have to learn yourself. It can be associated with mathematics, science, all subjects taught formally. Learning actually becomes quite easy when you use art, as it expands your imagination and helps you see things from different angles. That’s what I love about art: art isn’t in a box. It opens your mind and makes you see things you couldn’t see before. It’s magic and I think magic is important in everyone’s life.

Inside Sarwat Gilani's Art House

Us: Is Art House inclusive?

OS: Yes! Having worked with the Kiran Foundation and also currently as an Ambassador for Special Olympics Pakistan, I felt the need for a place where children could interact with disabled or neurodivergent children (an experience they do not have in mainstream schools). We have special days to meet the needs of children with special needs. We literally had parents here, crying for lack of places in our country that would welcome their child(ren) with special needs. It was a very overwhelming experience for me, an experience that reinforced my determination to provide a service that would satisfy everyone. By everyone, I mean everyone – the underprivileged, the hearing impaired, the Down’s syndrome, the autistic and the rest. Simply put, my belief is that art is not exclusive to those who can “afford it”, those who belong to elite families living in La Défense; no, it is also for those who live in other remote areas of the city, belonging to a lower socio-economic stratum of our society. Because I saw how pure and impartial these children are and I love working with them!

1. Arts and Crafts – Here children are encouraged to take a look through the lens of design so that they learn to identify and apply the different aspects of decorative or functional art to almost any activity , problems and even simple decisions very early in life.

2. Music – Early exposure to music provides children with multi-sensory experiences, accelerating all areas of child development. Music teachers begin the learner’s journey with singing and instruments like piano, violin, and guitar, followed by some interesting little percussion from different musical traditions.

3. Little Chefs – Baking provides a better understanding of farm-to-table products and helps develop healthy eating habits. It also teaches children about kitchen safety, encourages experimentation through safe cooking games, improves sensory and cultural awareness, and promotes basic language and math skills.

4. Self-defense and limits – This program covers highly relevant topics such as how to set strong verbal boundaries, keep a safe distance, positive action instead of negative reaction, and how to use an element of surprise to escape or walk away from. a threatening situation or person. This type of knowledge allows children to move easily in various contexts.

5. Robotics and coding – Children learn best by playing with physical objects, that is, by making objects, understanding their mechanism and possibly putting them to the test. The robotics program, following a total hands-on learning approach, involves many toolkits for young minds to explore.

6. Archery – Art House sees this sport as a refined and conscious approach to child development. Archery is the sport that builds the confidence of children the fastest. Its greatest impact is felt on the development of hand-eye coordination, which also improves the ability to concentrate better when aiming and shooting arrows. It improves their patience and presence of mind and gives them a sense of accomplishment.

7. Gardening and pottery – The garden is an interactive playground that engages many senses and engages in gardening, a fascinating activity that encourages children’s innate curiosity about nature and the environment. It ignites their sense of wonder. The reason for including pottery in this program is the multiple learning that takes place throughout the process of the immersive activity.

8. Yoga and mindfulness – Practicing yoga and aerobics can help achieve perfect balance between mind and body in our young learners, and also instill lifestyle habits to stay fit and healthy.

9. Parental Consciousness – This program helps focus on better communication skills and techniques, through supervised activities, active listening, allowing emotional health awareness and a circle of truth allowing for a more comfortable and trusting relationship between each family. .

Currently, there are two programs for children with special needs: arts and crafts and karate.

In addition to 10 specialist program instructors, the Art House team includes two qualified child therapists to help each child explore their respective strengths and interests.

Artragic 2022

Inside Sarwat Gilani's Art House

Since 2009, IVS-CEP has been organizing Summer Artrageous for children and young adults with the aim of unleashing their creative potential. Artrageous has become a platform where children can freely explore and develop their creative interests. Ranging from forms of painting, pottery, doodling, cartoon drawing, creative writing to dance, music, digital storytelling, theater, photography, animation, origami, crafts paper, embroidery, Artrageous offers a 10-day social and creative experience filled with excitement.

IVS offers 4 tours in June and July:

Round 1: May 30 – June 10

Round 2: June 13 – 24

Round 3: June 27 – July 8

Round 4: July 18 – 29

Class times will be from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily (each round). You can register for a minimum of two courses. Artrageous is open to 8-15 year olds.

Inside Sarwat Gilani's Art House

TDF MagnifiScience Center offers science experiments related to daily life, such as the use of water as a heat transfer fluid, the role of CO2 in daily life, the use of a catalyst, etc. Students will also learn to code a robot to perform specific tasks, and develop their own game. There will be arts and crafts activities, storytelling sessions and music.

The program is aimed at three different age groups: 3-6 years (mother-child program); 7-12 years old; and 13-16 years old.

The cost of the camp is Rs. 12,000.

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