The buses will travel across Pakistan to amplify the message of friendship and for the people to experience the art on wheels throughout the year. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: Two public buses showcasing artworks by Pakistani-Australian artists and portraying the famous landmarks of the two countries have hit the road in Pakistan.

The buses will travel across Pakistan to amplify the message of friendship and for the people to experience the art on wheels throughout the year.

The project aims to develop cultural connections between Pakistan and Australia as well as encourage interaction between the people of two countries, primarily connected by a shared passion for cricket. “As COVID-19 lockdowns impacted cities in Australia, Pakistan and around the world, we found new ways of connecting creatively with each other, share messages of love, positivity and hope, and supporting artists during this challenging time,” Australian High Commissioner Dr Geoffrey Shaw told Gulf News.

Prominent artists

The Australian High Commission supported the project to convert two public buses into artwork on wheels portraying the most popular images from the two countries. Pakistani-Australian artists, Imran Ahmad and Fatima Saeed, in collaboration with local emerging artists and students, worked on the project at a workshop held at Saeed Akhtar Studio Lahore and Lok Virsa Islamabad. Other prominent artists including Amal Nadeem, Ali Laraib Rizvi and Nisar Ahmed also participated in the project.

“Through this project, Imran and I have been able to celebrate the uniqueness and similarities of both the countries we call home. The diversity and inclusiveness that we experienced while living in Australia, left an indelible mark,” said Fatima Saeed, the visual artist.

The historic and cultural landmarks portrayed on the buses include Badshahi Mosque and the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge connecting the K-2 peak in Pakistan with Three Sisters rock formation in Australia. It also features Australia’s natural landmark Uluru and Sydney Opera House.

The art also includes the flora and fauna of the two countries. Jasmine, the national flower of Pakistan, and Jacaranda, the iconic tree of Australia, can also be seen on the buses. Australia’s beloved kangaroos have also made it to the artwork on wheels. Flags of the two countries have been painted with the words “Pakistan Australia friendship” on the front.

The two artists graduated from the University of New South Wales in Sydney and have exhibited their works across Pakistan and Australia. Artist and curator Imran Ahmad described it as “a very challenging project because of the coronavirus lockdowns but the idea of creating an inspiring artwork for the roads of Pakistan kept us going.”

Admiring Pakistan’s tradition of decorating vehicles especially the truck art, Dr Shaw highlighted that while Australia and Pakistan are both diverse countries, they share many common links. “Our two countries have much in common from our Commonwealth heritage and similar climates to our sporting and strong people-to-people links.”

Australia is home to over 91,000 Pakistanis, according to the 2019 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) survey. Most of them are skilled migrants, professionals and students.