Writer Shama Naqushbandi explains why projects like ‘Keep the Canvas Rolling’ are crucial

The Blank Canvas

 Sometimes worlds don’t meet. Sometimes reality fails us. The trenches of ignorance are dug too deep, even time becomes an accomplice. With a million soldiers deployed in the ‘most militarized zone and the longest pending dispute on planet earth’ (Guinness Book of World Records) reconciliation seems improbable, if not impossible. The tedium of acceptance begins to creep in like rust around a drain. This is why artistic endeavors like The Canvas Project are so important. This brave initiative aspires to redeem some of those failures of reality, to shine a light in the shadows, and remind us to connect where we all too often divide. Our institutions won’t do this for us. Our systems are limited. We can’t count on them. But what we can count on, and what we know from the history of time, is the irresistible, irrepressible human urge, as natural and instinctive from the moment of birth, to reach out and connect. To keep reaching out, no matter what. To keep connecting.

 In times of difficulty, you re-imagine the world around you. You see new possibilities, new ways of conceiving the world and this is what The Canvas Project has done. In less than a year, over 200 artists across 18 cities will engage on a subject long discarded as anathema to many. To a backdrop of failed communications on Kashmir, this project is creating a new dialogue on its own terms. Its message is one of inclusivity and freedom: the freedom to dream. A better reality is possible. The future is a blank canvas. Each stroke is our own making. The new generation of Kashmir has a clear message, and its ring is beginning to be felt through some of the most powerful cities in the world: our longings are universal longings, our dreams are universal dreams, our canvas is a part of yours.

Shama Naqushbandi is the author of The White House. Official release date:  1 July 2014. For further information or to register for the launch event on 28 June 2014, 6-9pm, at Waterstones Piccadilly, London visit http://www.thewhitehousebook.com

 “Shifting between the cosmopolitan city of London and the ghostly back-drop of war-torn Kashmir, a beautiful valley in northern India and site of the world’s most militarised territorial dispute, The White House tells the story of Liyana and her struggle to retrieve the lost White House of her childhood. As Kashmir decays with conflict, the rest of the world progresses forward at a dizzying pace. With the loss of childhood innocence comes the growing pains of a divided world and Liyana’s struggle to reaffirm harmony. The White House is a story of love, loss and longing – a deeply relevant modern-day odyssey that explores the challenge of finding ‘home’ in the twenty first century.”

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Cover Design: Syed Mujtaba Rizvi
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