Forty years ago the story of KOEL began in a workshop in Karachi’s inner city. We met fine artist Noorjehan Bilgrami and her daughter, the designer Sara Bilgrami at KOEL, a place where one can find a gallery for temporary art, a shop for handicraft textiles and clothes and an oasis-like restaurant.
View into Natasha Shoro’s exhibition “Transcending Boundaries”
Natasha Shoro, detail
Shah Abdullah Alamee
Noorjehan Bilgrami, painter, entrepreneur, teacher and gallery owner
KOEL Gallery is quietly situated in Karachi’s area of Defence. It is not that easy in Karachi to find a place for solitude and quality time in comparison Lahore is the place for contemplation and relaxation: So one wonders, why is Koel not in Lahore, why Karachi?
Up until now collectors support the gallery and its artists. This ensures a survival at ease. 40 years ago the situation was fairly different compared to nowadays, where the number grew from a handful of collectors to a broad audience. This allows the gallery owner to work completely independent from the international art market.
When the shop opened Sara Bilgrami entered the business and together with Noorjehan she worked on carrying forward the traditional way of doing hand block – a task that takes knowledge, engagement and optimism.
Designer Sarah Bilgrami, KOEL’s restaurant and textile shop owner
Sarah Bilgrami and the traditional hand block printing clothes
When people come to the restaurant, it is not just a feeling of comfort and comfort food. It is the blend between Eastern and Western food that makes the balance and gives the place a twist.
Koel Restaurant with painted bricks by Sadia Salim
KOEL’s dishes – a bridge between Eastern and Western
The garden for Karachiites to meet and relax
Our way back through Cliftons smart and civic area