The little green door leading inside spacious premises that house iconic artwork of distinguished artists exudes a fairytale charm similar to any Alice In Wonderland prop.It’s the premises alone that cast a spell on the visitor and compels one to make their way inside and then awaken their inner art lover, as the paintings, the drawings, the sketches and handcrafted décor is nothing less than genius on canvas.I had the good fortune of meeting artist, textile designer and researcher Noorjehan Bilgrami a couple of years after she had forayed into the fashion market with her label called Koel.The brand itself had created a furore into the Pakistani fashion scene, for her designs – all Eastern – were noticed for their distinct charm, unique designs and sophisticated colour palettes. I was in Karachi at that time, rediscovering my love for desi panir tikka, seated at Koel Café, when in walked Noorjehan Bilgrami, clad in Eastern attire, which I assumed was from her label Koel.She smiled at me warmly, and luckily for me, the friends that I was with at that time knew already and so they introduced me to her and I couldn’t have been happier. A self-made woman, Bilgrami had no airs to herself, having spearheaded a nationally acclaimed fashion label, an art gallery and also one of Karachi’s top restaurants. She suggested, now that I was on her premises, I should take a thorough tour of the restaurant’s outside area as well as the famed gallery and the boutique. And so I did exactly that, taking in the entire old-Karachi feel that was in the atmosphere, with all the greenery, the pots, the benches, and rays of an autumn sun caressing my face. It felt home.And then years later, on finding myself in Karachi once again, I made my way to Koel, where the same old-Karachi feeling engulfed me, contributed in full by an autumn sun, the plethora of plantations, wrought iron benches and wooden tables. The gallery had shifted slightly, and the restaurant was under construction reasons being that it was being expanded so that it could house more people – the clientele had surely increased.I made my way over to the art gallery, where I had to skip a pond, past potted greenery, and stain glass work which itself depicted a class and grandeur compared to no other. And on loomed a little green wooden door.Once inside the art gallery, the spacious white inside premises housed a plethora of paintings, drawings, artwork, handcrafted décor and a list of contributors, all lined up on the walls, whereas some found their place on the floor.Some of the artwork that truly caught my attention was a combination of three paintings, all depicting florals, birds and drinks, (Coca-Cola) to be exact, with a dull orange backdrop. The trio exuded calm, peace and serenity and that’s why it caught my attention.A handcrafted series depicting old fossils, plantations and extinct animals and fish, titled The Botany of Desire, is made up of dried leaves and placed on a table.Another painting that I particularly liked was bright and merry. It showed beautifully bloomed sunflowers in a stunning glass vase with a brown wall as its backdrop.I think what particularly sets Koel Art Gallery apart from any other art house is the fact that special attention is given to the framing of a drawing or a sketch. Most art houses that I’ve been to showcase drawings and paintings without a frame but at Koel, the framing is such that it speaks volumes of the artist’s vision and discretion.So another painting that I really liked was made with oil paints and watercolours splashed around and then merged into one with bold and subtle colours such as midnight blue, off white, gold and pink.And then I spotted curator Bilgrami’s iconic ink drawing itself, showing dainty leaves and stems and speaking of leaves, there was another installation of 3D leaves in separate frames. Another eye-catchy installation was made up of white papier-mâché, hanging from a ceiling and looking like broken pots from afar.Inside the art gallery, one can notice spacious white premises housing a plethora of paintings, drawings, artwork, handcrafted décor, and a framed list of contributorsThere is a visual framed artwork of black and gold polka dots that caught my attention as somehow I felt as if the dots and the entire artwork seemed to move right before my eyes.There are three more horizontal ones with a dark colour palette, showing leaves and bamboos (3D) and ancient tribal leaders.The Koel Art Gallery’s Botany of Desire is curated by Roohi S Ahmed, with contributions by Abdullah MI Syed, Danish Ahmed, Farah Mahbub, Manisha Gera Baswani, Naima Dadabhoy, Shahana Munawar, Usman Saeed, Yasmeen Salman and various others.In 2009, the gallery began with an advisory group of distinguished artists and architects as advisors. Many hours were spent in the courtyard under the champa tree with Habib Fida Ali, Arshad Faruqui, Amean J and Ussman Ghauri – the most enthusiastic and determined amongst all to make Koel Gallery different from the rest. They discussed at length and elaborated on what Koel’s mission statement should be.It became, “To bridge the divide between the arts and crafts.”Koel designated a space for exhibitions, both for the visual arts and the crafts, where artists, designers and craftsmen would share a common platform.The gallery is housed in a peaceful, tranquil environment, where soft natural light bathes the walls and a sense of calm prevails, where works of art become one with nature. The writer is In-charge Lifestyle at Daily Times. She Tweets at @cheenaagha and can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, October 12th 2017.