Nausheen Saeed: “Nowadays Art has only one value – price”

Made in Pakistan
February 15, 2010
the shoot
Cheap Chic
February 15, 2010

“I enjoy the technique of mold casting. I like to use natural everyday materials – fiber, clay, plaster, fabric, soap, bread. These are all the tangible materials. I have also used non-tangible substance like text and light," says Saeed. By Fareeha Qayoom

By Fareeha Qayoom


ausheen Saeed teaches at the National College of Arts (NCA) but that’s her day job. She is really a sculptor. “I turned professional in 1991 when I graduated from NCA. I had started doing projects from 1988. I chose sculpture as my major because it involves a lot of physical work – you become part of the material.”

Noshi Saeed

Nausheen Saeed

Discussing the technique, she says, “I enjoy the technique of mold casting. I like to use natural everyday materials –fiber, clay, plaster, fabric, soap, bread. These are all the tangible materials. I have also used non-tangible substance like text and light. Once I made a three dimensional text with leaves put together.

That sculpture had a physical feel – the form and text complemented each other. I did this in Poland. I also did a sculpture for a hospital, in London – I used non tangible material – lights. I blocked a space and played with different lights to make an interesting form. Surroundings inspire you and change you – in London, I guess I was homesick – so text came into my work, naturally.”

Nausheen is currently working on a series of sculptures based upon the female figures. “I am doing various studies of female form using different materials – the form is cast in fabric but it is a nude body. All the materials I use in my work are substitute for the body – even the edible stuff. It goes hand in hand. It’s just not another material but part of the form.”

Nausheen gets a lot of job satisfaction from her work. “I enjoy my work. I even tell my students – pick a subject that won’t bore you in the long run. My work is my catharsis. It makes me happy. You are always in the mood for work because when you start work – your mood and enthusiasm develops accordingly.”

Sculpture is labor of love for Nausheen. “I teach to earn a living to support my work. I find it interesting that people would like to pay for my work but that’s not the purpose of my creativity. People, who try to make their creativity their livelihood, in the long run, may have to compromise on the quality of their work. Since perfection is the ultimate goal, some work may never get resolved. You may have to abandon your work. There’s a point where you have to draw the line – true perfection is not attainable. Looking back, I always think I could have done better. You have to gauge, keep a physical standard, a sort of mental deadline – your work is actually about looking at yourself. How long can you look at yourself in the mirror? I can’t bear to look at my work after I finish it. I get embarrassed. It’s a blessing my mom has a large house and I can hide, store finished pieces. I also give my work away to friends.”

noshi saeed

Nausheen Saeed

Talking about the general state of art in the country, Nausheen remarks, “It’s a pity that there are not many public art galleries & museums where people can go and look at art. Artists’ work should be on display – it should be part of the permanent collections. Art is for everyone. It gives you a boost if you can sell your artwork, however, I don’t believe money should be the sole purpose for creating art. No doubt art is priced high and only the rich can afford it. But perception about art needs to be changed. Art education and government policies can play a big role in making art mainstream and accessible to the masses. Art should be part of your ordinary life; it needs to be part of your thinking process. It should enhance and hone your creativity. No doubt art in Pakistan is only for the elite. People don’t know what and who the artists are. Art could become main-stream. Rich people can afford to patronize the arts but that’s also confined to hanging original art in their homes. It’s not about true appreciation. Nowadays, art has only one value – price.”

“The opportunity for commercial art is there too, but I believe ideas should generate fresh ideas. Quality and job satisfaction is more important than heavy output of work and third rate pieces. Everything has become commercial. I believe in art for the sake of freshness and growth. You can make money from related fields. You can do projects to generate money – you don’t have to own that work. Art should be purely about self expression. An idea that is in realm of art will always find a niche, a market – the purpose should be thinking of original ideas, self expression – not making the same item over and over again for the purpose of making money. It kills creativity which is more important in my opinion.”

Talking about her students, Nausheen says, “There is not a lot of difference between art students of then and now. Focus used to be on art in my student days. Now the student focus has become divided. There is more awareness but little maturity. I think one reason for this immaturity is that NCA imposed an age limit. The policy has been revised to allow mature students to study art. People who are really interested and serious about art are coming to study now. Attitudes are bound to improve.” ■

This article was originally published in the print edition of “The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review,” (Tkfr), issue 12, October 2005

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Fareeha Qayoom
Fareeha Qayoom
Publisher and editor-in-chief of and former print editions of The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review (tkfr), a trade newsletter for the textile and apparel industry of Pakistan. In short, Publisher, editor, and a blogger. In addition, she has served as Managing Editor of MIT Technology Review Pakistan, print and web editions (2015-16). Total of 7 editions were published under her leadership by ITU, Punjab's first public technology university under the license of MIT Technology Review (USA). She has also managed Value Mag in the same capacity, a real estate and lifestyle magazine for Value TV - 2008-9. Published freelancer for The News on Sunday 1994-96. Fareeha has over 21 years of solid management experience – of managing brands (like Harley Davidson, Munsingwear, Chaps, Chaps Ralph Lauren etc.,), Retailers (like Target, Mervyns, Kohl's, Marks and Spencer etc.,), customers (VPs, Product Managers, Unit Managers, and Buyers), and products (apparel - woven, knits, men's, women's, children's, Print and online publishing units), projects, teams, and processes, information, content, and data, staff, vendors, and time. Versatile and adaptable with international exposure, communication and language skills (oral and written), and a consistent track record of achieving company targets and objectives, plus a MA in Political Science from Punjab University, a MSc in Economics from La Salle University, Louisiana, USA, and a BA in Economics from Kinnaird College for Women.

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