By Reena Kumar
My Granddad’s Car is the result of a project between two artists, Sayed Hasan and Karl Ohiri who met while completing an MA at Goldsmiths, London.
It explores notions of migration and heritage, as seen through their relationships with two cars inherited from their respective late grandfathers in Pakistan and Nigeria.
Hasan spoke to Eastern Eye about the exhibition which tells their story through photographs, films and objects.
Tell me about My Granddad’s Car…
My Granddad’s Car is a collaborative project between Karl Ohiri and myself, exploring individual and shared heritages through our relationship as friends and artists. It began after we discovered a mutual fascination in the cars that once belonged to our late grandfathers. Struck by the coincidence of our interests we decided to park them side-by-side in England, our country of birth. This seemingly ordinary act, however, was complicated by the location of the objects, which sat in our respective family villages in Nigeria and Pakistan, and the decrepit state of the cars.
Where did the idea stem from?
I had a strong compulsion to bring my granddad’s car to the country I lived in. It always picked me up from Lahore airport, when I visited Pakistan, but no further. Through the object, I wanted to connect two cultural and home spaces that felt distant.
What influences do you draw from when producing your art?
The most consistent influence on my artistic practice is everyday life. Much of my work, up to this point, has been inspired by themes relating to identity, family and circumstance.
What does it mean to you to be part of Alchemy?
I like how Alchemy invited us to present a project which transcends a single culture and continent. It seems very fitting to the festival name. Southbank Centre has to be one of my favourite areas in central London, so I’m excited to be in the cultural mix.
What artists or subjects inspire you?
Much of my work, up to this point, has been inspired by themes relating to identity, family and circumstance. I like artists that strongly draw upon their own life experiences and make art; regardless of the form it takes.
Do you think there should be more of a focus in teaching the arts in schools?
I used to work in a primary school in east-London and the pupils relished art activities. I think it should be a core part of the curriculum. Regardless of whether you become an artist or not, having the confidence to think and act creatively is a valuable quality.
What drew you to pursue a career as an artist?
I’ve loved art from an early age and being an artist is an important part of my identity.
Would you like to see more Asian and ethnic minority artists in Britain?
A truly diverse art scene is the ideal situation. Art is a reflection of the thoughts and feelings of the time we live in, so the more perspectives being presented creates a richer picture of the world.
How can this be achieved?
That’s a big question! I would advise, if you feel like a minority against the art world you see in front of you, it’s important to remember that no-one truly owns art; and it’s yours for the taking.
- My Granddad’s Car by Sayed Hasan and Karl Ohiri will be at Southbank Centre’s Alchemy from Friday 19 May until Monday 29 May.