Baby from second hand flesh coloured pantieshose, made in Alexandria Egypt 2008





 05/07/2008 11:31 AM

Powered by Jacqueline van der Venne



Creativity is central to Ruby; her quality of life depends on its existence and practice. Her work is deeply rooted in personal experience and past identity. As the fourth daughter of a traditional Pakistani family, her life was not considered valuable by those around her and her developing self-esteem suffered. However, Ruby sought and found the tiniest glimmer of a silver lining in her situation, choosing to view this neglect as a perverse type of freedom. She filled the expanses of empty time with her passion for making things and used creative endeavour as a type of therapy. Later, as an artist attempting to find her own vocabulary, she recalled this experience of making dolls as a child and reverted to fashioning dolls out of scraps of cloth. Using dismembered old quilts and sacking, which she collects, her work bridges the gap between traditional doll making and contemporary sculpture. Ruby is comfortable with cloth and feels the work has personal integrity.
Ruby's latest work features crows and buffaloes, creatures that have a particular resonance for her. The crow is an interesting mythical character in the subcontinent; it heralds the arrival of guests but is also an ill omen. Crows are watchful creatures and gather whenever there is a disaster. While making crows by stuffing and stitching with straw, Ruby realised that the material she was using was the favourite food of buffaloes. It seemed appropriate that the material used to create the crows also gives form to buffaloes. In the Punjab they live together, buffalo and crow, existing in a symbiotic relationship.
The buffalo is a symbol of abundance, sustenance and earth energy. Ruby's identification with the animal is clear, 'I feel very close to this creature called buffalo, a woman, mother, Mother Nature always giving, struggle has been planted into her so deeply that it has penetrated her bone marrow. She had been betrayed and defeated so many times by injustice that defeat has no meaning to her, after each hardship she gathers more energy and make herself stand on her feet so that she can walk again even without the promise of gods.' While making the sculptures of the buffaloes Ruby felt she was filling the empty stomach of these creatures with food and making them healthier, yet she found she could not alter their posture. 'As if possessing a will of her own, she asked me to make her in the same fashion, tired, lost, having given away every drop of her energy and yet not given up.'
The materials Ruby employs raise the question of permanence, a preoccupation in our society. However the artist believes the value of works cannot be measured in how long they survive. 'We have seen ideas that exist nowhere last for centuries and sculptures in bronze meant to stay forever melted down for weapons.'