Multidisciplinary artist Sayed Sattar Hasan led our fifth Wild Learning event, Mutated Tradition. Stemming from his ethnically and culturally diverse background (a Northampton-born, Norwegian-based artist, who is half-Pakistani, a quarter English, a quarter unknown and Irish by proxy), Sayed’s work explores heritage and belonging and their constant change. The day was full of thoughtful discussion of artistic practice and personal history, as well as “the therapy of being an artist”.
Sayed began with a presentation of theme-relevant works My Grandad’s Car, a years-long collaboration with Karl Ohiri, and the ever-growing Northampton Is My Fate.
For My Grandad’s Car, Sayed and Karl started with the seemingly simple idea of transporting their grandfathers’ rusting, unusable cars from Pakistan and Nigeria, respectively, to England. This rumination on ancestry, history, and the emotional ties inherent in possessions and intensified by family migrations, quickly turned into a struggle with local bureaucracy and authorities. It became clear that these UK-born artists, while still connected to their families across the world, were removed from the facts of daily life within those communities.
Northampton Is My Fate is another multi-faceted project focused on identity and sense of place, one which continues to mutate as Sayed moved first to Lincolnshire and then to Norway: “OSLO ER MIN SKJEBNE NÅ.”
This discussion set the stage for participants to take on some of Sayed’s approach, using art making to work out questions of personal belief while staying comfortable with uncertainty within the process. What a time to be introduced to a table full of materials to create a piece inspired by Sayed’s 2015 work Feather Zangeer.
The outcomes were diverse, with flagellates made with chains, tape, foam, fabric, balloons, gilded leaves, and potatoes from the Fermynwoods kitchen. One failed to even resemble the original instrument of ritual violence, instead seeming to represent the effect of its use.
As photography is integral to Sayed’s practice, the group then worked together to document their work. This documentation ranged from deliberately staged photographs on coloured backgrounds to videoed performance.
Mutated Tradition is was continuation of the Outdoor Institute of Art, a two-year programme conceived by Yasmin Canvin and run by Fermynwoods Contemporary Art. The Outdoor Institute is an alternative art school with discussions, skills and knowledge sharing events between artists, experts in relevant fields, the arts sector and members of the public.