Bangladesh’s first modern sculptor and one of the original designers of the Central Shaheed Minar, Novera Ahmed has passed away after spending decades away from the spotlight.
The artist died in her sleep on Tuesday night local time at her home in Chantemesle near Paris, according to a Facebook post in her official fan page.She had been living in France for a long time.
The Facebook post also said that a ‘private funeral would be held on Monday morning at a cemetery’ in the area where she lived.
Novera Ahmed was born in 1939, according to the screenshot of an article posted on that Facebook page. It is written by Ana Islam, a Paris-based art critic who was close to the artist.
However, painter Hashem Khan wrote in an article that Novera was born in 1930.
Her family had moved to Comilla in 1947 where her father Syed Ahmed, an excise officer, was transferred.
Khan’s article also hinted that Novera spent some time in Kolkata. Her ancestral home was in Chittagong.
After studying in Kolkata and Comilla, she went to London in 1951 to get higher education, according to Khan.
A bright student, Ahmed was awarded a Diploma in Design at the Camberwell School of Art in London in 1955.
During her stay there, she had met artist Hamidur Rahman, the other designer of the Shaheed Minar, the memorial built to honour the memory of the martyrs of the 1952 Language Movement.
The two had started the work to design the Shaheed Minar in 1957, according to Khan.
“Hamid chose Novera’s design among many more models for the Shaheed Minar. They had worked nearly a month to come up with the final design.”
“The foundation stone of the Shaheed Minar was laid on Feb 21 in 1957 and the construction continued until 1958. But the work was suspended after a martial law was imposed,” Hashem Khan wrote in the article.
At Camberwell, Ahmed studied under famous British sculptor Jacob Epstein and Karel Vogel of erstwhile Czechoslovakia.
She also studied European sculptures under sculptor Venturino Venturi in Florence and later in Vienna.
Ahmed was awarded the Ekushey Padak, one of the highest civilian awards of the country, in 1997.
After a four-decade-long break, a retrospective exhibition of her body of work took place in January last year in Paris.
Her last exhibition was also held in Paris in July 1973.
Between 1956 and 1960, Ahmed had worked on about 100 sculptures in capital Dhaka. Out of them, 33 sculptures were collected by the National Museum.
Her first exhibition was held at Dhaka University in 1960. However, Khan wrote that she had left for Pakistan’s Lahore around that time.
Six of her sculptures were also included in an exhibition in Lahore in 1961.
According to Hashem Khan, Novera Ahmed left for Mumbai after staying several years in Lahore.
From there she went to Paris, before returning to Lahore after some time. But she did not stay there for long.
After visiting several other countries, the sculptor settled in France. – bdnews24.com