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City Museums – Abdul Karim Solangi’s Cultural Museum

A diamond in the rough. Moosa lane in Lyari is not perhaps a place where one would expect to find a museum of kinetic sculptures. That too along with the sculptor, the gracious Abdul Karim Solangi who has been awarded pride of performance by the President of Pakistan not too long ago. I had already seen Solangi’s work at Lyari Literature Festival. He himself was not there but I made sure that I speak to him and find a day to meet him at his small museum in Moosa Lane.

I park my car in front of Kiran School and walk towards Moosa Lane. I see a general store named ‘Allah Tawakul’ which reminds me of ‘Allah Tawakul’ bakery from Muhammad Khalid Akhtar’s ‘Chakiwara mein visaal’. T take a mental note that I will check with store proprietor if there’s any connection. I turn left from the store and spot a tiny shop and a man sitting in front of it. The man somehow fits the image of a sculptor in Moosa lane. Meanwhile the man himself stands and greets me. Later he would tell me that I somehow fitted the image of someone who would be interested in his sculptures.

The Museum, as Abdul Karim Sonalngi used to call it many years ago is setup inside a tiny shop. There is hardly enough room for two people to look at the sculptures at the same time. I walk inside the shop. The kinetic sculptures are static at the moment but come to life as soon as Solangi turns the switch on. Suddenly everything comes to life. Jalal Chandiyo, Allan Faqeer and other musician start playing their instruments while the sculptures on the other side start moving in their routine. These sculptures have been designed over several years and you can see the evolution there in the room. While all sculptures have smooth kinetic movement, the sound and finesse has gotten better over time. Naturally the best ones are kept right at the beginning, starting with those of musicians.

I join Solangi at the front of the shop. He has many things to say. Every sculpture has a story behind it. Arranging miniature clothes, instruments, accessories etc has been a project in itself but Solangi remained steadfast. His work has been well received and he started getting invites to participate in cultural events organized by cultural ministry and Arts council in Karachi. In addition he has been participating voluntarily at cultural events such as Lyari Literature Festival. In 2015, Solangi was awarded Pride of Performance by Mamnoon Hussain, then President of the country. The award has not changed his fortune much though. He continues to get odd invites here and there but there has not been any support to help him create new work or teach kids his skill. He has not been regular to his museum recently but whenever he opens it, people in the neighborhood know. He has spend most of his life around this neighborhood and people stop by to exchange greetings.

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Categories: City Museums

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One Comment on “City Museums – Abdul Karim Solangi’s Cultural Museum”

  1. November 11, 2019 at 4:08 am #

    It is amazing what this artist has created with his talents and ingenuity without any help. Mr. Abdul Kareem Solangi’s art needs to be celebrated. The fact his art is not being appreciated the way it should be is sad.
    Thank you Karachiwala for introducing Solangi’s art and artistic creations to us. They are fabulous and deserve to be admired and supported by the people of Karachi.

    I will try to visit his museum on my next visit to Karachi.

    Thank you for bringing Solangi’s art and creations to the knowledge of wider audience.

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