Today’s Doodle celebrates the pioneering artist Novera Ahmed, who is considered the first modern sculptor in Bangladesh and whose distinctive work borrowed from Western, folk, indigenous, and Buddhist themes to reflect the experiences of women.
Ahmed was born in 1939 during a sea crocodile hunt in the largest mangrove swamp in the Ganges. She was drawn to sculpture from a young age, inspired by watching her mother make dolls and clay houses. When her father attempted to marry her off to a noble family, she resisted, insisting that she wanted to become a sculptor.
Ahmed studied design at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in London, graduating in 1955 and going on to receive further training in Florence and Vienna. She rose to prominence in 1960 with Inner Gaze, the first-ever solo sculpture exhibition by any sculptor in Bangladesh or Pakistan. A collaboration with painter Hamidur Rahman resulted in the Shaheed Minar, a national monument in Dhaka commemorating the Bengali Language Movement demonstrations of 1952.
In 1963, Ahmed bid farewell to her home and settled permanently in Paris. Two years traveling through East Asia inspired a departure in form, yielding several assemblages made from the debris of American warplanes. In 1997, Ahmed received an Ekushey Padak, the second highest civilian award in Bangladesh.
Today, many of her works can be viewed at the Novera Ahmed Museum, founded in 2018 by her husband in the small town of La Roche-Guyon outside of Paris.
Happy 80th birthday, Novera Ahmed!