Damon and Kim in Pakistan

Damon and Kim share a special bond with the people of Pakistan. Nothing discourages them from visiting Pakistan, not even terrorism threats

In 1997, Damon Kowarsky a young Australian art student back then, had a chance to visit Pakistan, India and Iran.

As he shares:

“In Pakistan, I met with some very inspirational people, especially Nusrat Latif Qureshi of miniature department at National College of Arts who introduced me to miniature art of Pakistan. Later on, during one of my trips I met Sabeen Raja at a residency she was holding via UNESCO. Much impressed by miniature art of Pakistan, I was put in touch with Samila Hashmi and I learnt it from here at NCA in 2012.”

It’s almost 20 years now that Damon Kowarsky is visiting Pakistan quite often. This year, accompanied with Damon is Hyun Ju Kim, a Korean born artist from Australia to whom Pakistan was introduced by Damon. Kim, as she’s called in Pakistan, visited Pakistan in 2015 to help NCA reopen its department for Lithography that had been closed for 30 years.  

Damon and Kim share a special bond with the people of Pakistan. Nothing discourages them from visiting Pakistan, not even terrorism threats. Their wanderlust to explore the country took them to far-fetched places, travel on local transport, and association with common people. There was simply no stopping them. Damon and Kim arrived in Lahore in February, and despite knowing of the terrorist threats, the artist-duo headed to the famous Chaman Ice Cream on The Mall.

We went through hundreds of pictures as soon as the couple arrived back in Lahore after an extended visit in Karachi to share with you all that made Damon and Kim fall in love with Pakistan. Let’s tag along with Damon and Kim in Pakistan!

It is always a pleasure to cross from India to Pakistan at Wagah. I love seeing the portrait of Quaid-e-Azam and the Bab Azadi and being reminded that I am almost home.


First stop after finding a hotel is Chaman Ice Cream near Regal Chowk Lahore. They say all the flavours are good, but we never get beyond 'Caramel Crunch' and 'Kulfi'

Meeting with old friends Atif Khan and Saad Ahmed in the Cowasjee Print Studio of National College of Arts Lahore. This time we brought a small gift for Atif from the Indian printmaker Lovesh Sharma. One of the great things about art is how it brings people together across cultures and borders


Dawn over Regal Chowk. The city was quiet at this time and the colours of the sky changed quickly as the sun rose


Australia Masjid. Honourary Consul for Pakistan in Melbourne Ayesha Bux's great grandfather endowed this mosque in recognition of the opportunities given to him and his family in Australia. While Ayesha talked about the mosque some time ago, it took me nearly 10 years to visit it. It is good to know such a long history of friendship exists between our two countries

Mohamed works in the evenings at Lahore Backpackers. When he found out Hyunju Kim and I were artists, he asked for a portrait

Travelling on the Night Coach from Lahore to Karachi. Everyone was surprised when we told them we were catching the train, and especially that we were travelling in economy. But the journey was comfortable, and breakfast in the dining cart delicious


After 25 hours of journey on the train now we are in Lahore!


Together with Nurayah Sheikh Nabi, Head of Printmaking at Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Kim and I helped 17 local artists produce a print portfolio. Here I work on my own design for the project

Inky fingers with Nurayah and Kim in the print studio

Participants in the 'Fine Print' workshop gather round to look at prints

The last thing you do before finishing is sign your prints. Hopefully this time your hands will be clean!

Participants in the workshop [from left to right] Aamir Habib, Ayesha Naveed, Rabia Ali, Moeen Faruqi, Muhammad Abdul [technician], Aziza Ahmad, Damon Kowarsky, Natasha Malik, Hyunju Kim, Nurayah Sheikh Nabi, Zara Asghar, and Noreen Ali

Graphic designer and artist Aziza Ahmad gave me this as a going away present. It was a real pleasure to work with her and everyone else at Indus. A big thank you to our hosts Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture and VASL Artist's Collective for their support in making our time in Karachi so wonderful

*Image credits: Damon Kowarsky

Marian Sharaf Joseph is an independent journalist. Her work for local and global publications focuses on culture and community affairs