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  • Emaan Shaikh, 28 - “This wall teaches us about how things were once, that India and Pakistan were together, how the religions once existed and now there are so many divisions around religion. Knowing this adds to your knowledge and helps you to grow as a person. If a temple and mosque could live side by side then why can’t we in this day and age live side by side?”
    AKDN / Christopher Wilton-Steer
Emaan Shaikh: Restoring the frescoes of the Picture Wall in Lahore

Emaan qualified as Fine Artist majoring in painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore. She was always interested in history and art and after graduating wanted to bring those two interests together. She heard about AKTC’s restoration of the Shahi Hammam and gained a training position there where she worked for a year on the conservation and restoration of the frescoes.

“I have a really intense and deep love of history, especially Pakistani history.”

“Most people don’t understand the importance of heritage, they don’t think it is important to preserve. But we should know where we’ve come from, we should know what our history is. Understanding where we have come from and what people before us have been through helps in my work, it helps the way I think, it helps with the way I am.”

“This wall teaches us about how things were once, that India and Pakistan were together, how the religions once existed and now there are so many divisions around religion. Knowing this adds to your knowledge and helps you to grow as a person. If a temple and mosque could live side by side then why can’t we in this day and age live side by side?”

Architects, art historians, engineers, fine artists, chemists, conservators, and ceramists make up the constellation of skilled young people working for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) on one of the largest restoration projects in Pakistan.

The 17th century Mughal-era Picture Wall in Lahore’s Walled City has been in a state of decay for over 100 years but thanks to the efforts of the Walled City of Lahore Authority, international donors and the infectious energy of this young team of conservators, the wall is being brought back from the brink.

The first phase of restoration of this UNESCO world heritage site - some 50 metres - was completed at the end of March 2019 and was inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The remaining 400 metres of this awe-inspiring structure will take a further decade.

This article was originally published on the Wilton Photography blog.