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Anna Molka Ahmed

Prof Anna Molka Ahmed (1917 - 1994) was a famous Pakistani artist and pioneer of fine arts in the newly born Pakistan in 1947. She was a professor of fine arts at the University of the Punjab in Lahore. She was among the pioneers of women artists in Pakistan and had been a long-time director and moving spirit behind the Fine Arts Department of the Punjab University, Lahore - the first institution that was opened to the women artists in Pakistan. "In fact she has been the facilitator of a movement that made the proactive role of women artists a possibility". writes Nilofur Farrukh (president of International Art Critics Association, Pakistan Section). It is because of trendsetters like her that the feminist art in Pakistan is gaining strength away from traditional gender discriminatory dominance. In fact these days we are witnessing a gradual dismantling of social and gender classifications. Well this has not been easy, since a lot of women had to struggle hard to bring women atop many a prestigious positions - above men, Ana Molka Ahmed is one such women. She started evening art classes at Lahore Arts Council (Alhamra) and later in a village near Lahore. Her untiring efforts gradually upgraded art education beyond B.A to M.A. in fine art at the Punjab University. She was Head of fine art department from 1940-1978. Her contribution to art education and its promotion heas been most influential. Her paintings and sculpture are found in many public and private collections in Pakistan and abroad.

She was born to Jewish parents, in London, UK in 1917. Her mother was Polish and father was a Russian. She studied painting, sculpture and design at St. Martin School of Arts, London. She converted to Islam at the age of 18 in 1935, before marrying Sheikh Ahmed, a would be Pakistani in October 1939. The couple moved to the Indian subcontinent in 1940-41 and settled in Lahore. Although, her marriage was over in 1951, but yet she lived in Pakistan with her two daughters. She was awarded Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, for her services in the field of fine arts education in the country. Professor Emeritus Anna Molka Ahmed set up a department, which has now become a center of excellence for Fine Arts in Pakistan. At the time of independence, there were only five or six Muslim students in the art department, and Anna Molka Ahmed went from one college to another seeking students for the arts department and thus was able to introduce art courses in the Punjab University. Her students became famous artists in the country and many of them are playing their role globally.

Beside painting, she was an avid gardener. She would wear her trade mark while tending the garden, cutting hedges in new and artistic pattern, and went on painting and gardening till the very last time until she was ordered by the doctors to stop because it was straining her health badly. Anna Molka also took to writing poetry in later part of her life. She breathed her last in 1994.

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