Highlighting Novera's life and works
To celebrate its 100th year, Bangladesh National Museum (BNM) arranged a seminar on July 8-9 and opened up discussions between internationally acclaimed historians, museum keepers, gallerists and archaeologists.
At the evening session of the concluding day, Jahangir Hussain, keeper, Department of Contemporary Art and World Civilization, BNM, read out a paper titled “Novera Ahmed and her Sculpture in the Bangladesh National Museum”. His paper highlighted Novera's eventful life and works and BNM's valuable collection of Novera's works.
Novera Ahmed, the first modern sculptor of Bangladesh, was born in 1930 in Calcutta (Kolkata). She studied in Calcutta and Comilla, and was awarded a Diploma in Design in the Modeling and Sculpture course from Camberwell School of Art in London in 1955. At Camberwell she studied under the renowned British sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein and Karel Vogel of Czechoslovakia. She also enriched her perspective on European sculpture by studying under the sculptor Venturi Venturino in Florence and later in Vienna. She was influenced by many western modern sculptors such as Henry Moore and the modern art approach of the Western World. She became a highly talented, audacious and innovative sculptor.
At one stage in her career, Novera collaborated with Hamidur Rahman and was credited with the original design of the Central Shaheed Minar. She sought to include a fountain as part of the structural design of the Shaheed Minar. Within a short span, from 1956 to 1960, Novera had done about 100 sculptures in Dhaka. Her first and last exhibition was held in 1960. Out of 100 sculptures by Novera, 33 sculptures were collected by the BNM. Her sculptures stand out in respect of history, forms, treatment of materials and media.
Novera has created these artifacts with the rich academic training and practical knowledge that she gained at home and overseas. She has been a keen observer of village life and folk motifs and has based many of her artifacts on what she observed. She has created an extensive family series, including sculptures of loving women with their children. She has also executed male and female figures at different angles. The figures can been seen in relaxed or joyful modes. The BNM has done an excellent task of collecting and preserving Novera's extensive works. Future generations of students, artists, art critics and art enthusiasts will get new perspectives on sculpture by observing the works of pioneering sculptor Novera at the museum.