This week You! takes a look at the rare and vintage collection ‘Burnt Brick Collectibles’ by Fauzia Ahmad, a Lahore-based collector…
Collectors around the world enjoy the rush of finding every item that relates to their niche, but owning even a single antique item is an experience that cannot be matched elsewhere. It surely takes someone special to look beyond the tarnish and age and see the diamond in the rough.
Residing in Model Town Lahore since 1949, Fauzia Ahmad is one such collector who owns a treasure of antiquities. Her collection reminisces a great dedication of ancient art of creating handmade masterpieces, speaking volumes of a cultural linkage and her proud inheritance.
My collection is very eclectic and always growing. It has antique carpets, darries, shawls, sarees, European patchwork; Japanese crockery, art of Chokin vases, jugs and pitchers, dinner and tea sets; tasteful decorations of great variety; vintage and antique furniture from desert nomads, rural Punjabi villages, Kashmir, Europe and elsewhere; fine art, oil paintings, watercolours, rare prints, batik, tapestry, fine embroidery; wood work, silver and precious metallic decorations, picture frames, lamps from all over the world, and much more, shares Fauzia.
‘Burnt Brick Collectibles’ is a valuable source of handpicked things, be it the artistic vintage cane chair, carpets made out of hand spun wool, detailed cross stitch panels, antique dinner service crockery, ceramic tiles and gorgeously crafted beaded table spread displaying laborious handwork; there is a treasure of artistic pieces waiting to be discovered at the beautiful abode of Fauzia Ahmad. At her studios, which is also her residence; I came across a silver tray that can be traced back to the pre-partition era along with intricate mirrorwork woollen shawls, a Persian Tabraiz rug and an old cane tea trolley that had once served tea to the late Nusrat Bhutto.
Browsing through the artefacts, there in the corner of the room, I also spotted an antique dresser lined against a burnt brick wall.
“My greatest strengths must be my passion and persistence. I discovered my love for collecting and teaching decades ago. I put in endless hours, travelled countless miles and never allowed the rest of life’s hurdles to dissuade me from these pursuits. I’ve found genuine and fragile collectibles hidden in mounds of worthless trinkets from Raja Bazaar Rawalpindi and I have acquired fragile vintage Venetian ceramics from posh antique sellers in Knightsbridge London. Similarly, I have taught English to students preparing for the CSS exams and science to poor orphans from Gajju Matta,” Fauzia tells about her journey.
With the exquisite display in her home, Fauzia takes pleasure in sharing her stories with fellow enthusiasts during open houses. Much of her collection is for sale, yet she still maintains a connection to it, “The departure of each piece is a continuing journey of an old treasure off to its next home with my new or old friend. My clients are of diverse backgrounds but share an appreciation for quality, taste and lasting value.”
When asked about the elements that encapsulate her diverse collection she says, “Picking a favourite piece is harder than identifying my favourite child. Each piece tells a unique story, reflecting the craftsmanship of a particular time and place. However, at a difficult time of my life, I had to reluctantly part with an exquisite eighty-year-old Kashan Persian rug, a true masterpiece that actually belongs in a museum. If I ever win that back, it will become my favourite.”
Fauzia’s friends are often amazed at the intensity and effort that she puts into both of her pursuits. “Honestly, the immense pleasure I derive from my work, teaching and collecting, makes it feel like no sacrifice at all. For example, when an impoverished and stuttering orphan rises to the top of her class, and competes confidently with private school students, the toil seems more than worthwhile.
Collecting and teaching connects me to beautiful people and keeps my family traditions and values alive.
I derive great contentment as well as much inner strength from leading a purposeful life, enjoying my hobbies and taking care of my loved ones – children, grandchildren, friends and students,” she adds.
In any mature collection, it is significant for the collector to be able to separate specific works of art from the squillions of pieces already in existence; and assemble them cohesively to tell a story. The same can be said about ‘Burnt Brick Collectibles’.