the first January 2008 we received British sculptor, Benjamin Hewett
(Ben) who came to our Paradise.
showed me his carvings that to me seem to be the standard of an artist
from the west, but I was impressed of his life, and the way that he
lives in the top of an old oak tree in west Wales and usually consumes
and lives off the food which is “out of date”. He was not fully aware
that the way that he lives can be a good base to be an eco-artist. He
lives on the top of a tree and is sensitive about the waste of food.
What he needed was to write a statement and introduce this way of life
as an art concept.
worked in my studio for three weeks and produced a number of carvings.
As we worked, we discussed a lot and now he agrees with me that his life
can be his art. In my view his tree house and why he eats wasted food
is more interesting than his carvings.
January 2008, Ben participated in the; Dream of Peace, the 15th
Environmental Art Festival in the Persian Gulf, working individually and
helping us to realize other collaborative projects, supporting peace and
a reaction against war.
Ben traveled to different parts of Iran and exploring our country, in
some areas he continued to produce sculptures.
Ben during the festival
stayed in Iran for three months and now he is proficient in Persian. In
my recent trip to the central desert of
Iran he accompanied me and my
family and we traveled to the Maranjab desert on the southern side of
the Sea of Salt.
First we traveled to the historic city of Kashan, and from there we
targeted the Sea of Salt.
On our way we explored the desert and saw the beauty of the new spring
flowers coloring this normally arid landscape and the creatures of the
know that this area is mostly sand and desert. I designed and produced
three cylinder seals. Ben and my son Behzad assisted me to print these
new seals in the sand and then took photos of me, while I worked. I
usually suggest a location and start to print. Sometime a single line
which shows a sequence of creatures and sometimes I make a pattern. The
best photos can be taken in the early morning or the late afternoon when
the sun is at its lowest.
visited and old fortified building which served the travelers of the
caravan (Carawansara) in the southern part of the
Sea of Salt. It was amazing to
see such a paradise in the middle of desert and imagine in the old time
when people trod the Silk Road and after fifty kilometers walk each day used it as a
place of rest.
our way one of my vehicles had a puncture. I didn’t want to risk driving
on the spare wheel, so I decided to drive fifty kilometer back and
repair my tire then continue my journey. In this remote region it is
dangerous to go into it without a 4X4.
Ben in Sea of Salt
final destination was the Sea of
drove to south east part of the sea which has no water but is wet.
looked like a magical land and we felt that we were on anther planet. A
layer of salt covered everywhere. The texture and colors were so
different I used a stick and designed many fish on the sea bed. When I
scratched through the salt layers and revealed the clay beneath. I felt
this sea needed some fish.
we returned to Kashan we also visited some historic houses. They are
amazing in architectural terms of design, space and geometrical
While Ben was with us he always criticizesed people who left their
garbage, plastic bottles and bags in nature. He also criticizes people
around the world including Iranians that waste food.
He said on his way
to Iran while in transit in Milan airport he couldn’t let the food in
the restaurant be wasted and happily devoured it. I suggest a
performance related to this fact for his last dinner before his
departure to the
انگلیسی بنجامین در اعتراض به اصراف غذا در روز 13 فروردین اضافه غذای مردم
بر وری میز ها را خورد و سیر شد.
Ben consumed the left over food wasted by its customers in a
fast food restaurant near Engelab square in Tehran
We went to a fast food restaurant near Engelab square and
Ben made one performance. He consumed the left over food
wasted by its customers. This was a symbolic action to show people they
should not waste food. They should buy only as much as they can eat.
Billions of tons of food are thrown away each year, while millions of
people suffering from starvation and hunger. The costumers were
surprised why this foreigner who was eating the left over food.
Some of them realized that their food may be eaten and quickly finished
their plates and took the left overs with them.
the 2nd of April 2008, Ben went back home. Before he left I
give him one of my carvings which had a design of a bird. I called this
bird “the Bird of Peace”. Ben will take it home and make a nest in a
hollow of a tree where he lives and this bird will start a new life.
در اعتراض به زمزمه های جنگ
و در تعامل با یکدیگر ما تصمیم کرفتد این پرنده صلح در درخت کهنسالی که او زندگی میکند
نصب شود. کبوتر صلح را به همراه بنچامین با
انگلستان ارسال کردم تا بر درخت بریتانیایی آشیانه کند.
an Iranian, I thought this can be the best present to give to the people
remember in April last year when I was in UK, at the same time when the
British navy trespassed into Iranian waters and were arrested by the
Iranian navy, I took my fish to the water of the Uk and no one arrested
my fish. Creatures of our planet live without borders.
INTERVIEW with Benjamin Hewett:
Que; why have you decided to live within nature?
after thirty years of living in London did I realize that there was more
to life than commuting to work every day on a crowded train or stuck in
traffic jam breathing in fumes. Then after much thought I made the move
to the countryside It was only until I built my tree house and that I
started living in it that I understood the power of nature. The tree
house is designed to move with the wind, and only when you are living in
it with high winds do you understand why nature must be strong and
compatible with its surroundings in order to live in harmony.
Que; what is your motivation for traveling to Iran
have known Iranian people in London and enjoyed their company and
cuisine. But also was intrigued to see behind the curtain that the west
has put up, the propaganda that has tarred the face of Iran. I wanted to
travel blind without a guide book to just let it happen, and not follow
the same path as other tourists.
Que; what inspiration did you gain from environmental artists?
after I was invited to work on Nadalians studio did I realize that there
was more to my work than just sculpture, and that the Freegan lifestyle
that I live was very much connected to the environment! I felt that I
had spread the message, and concentrate more on environmental art. I am
planning to use what I have learnt in Iran and start my own
environmental art center, and collaborate with other artists in this
Que; what disturbed you in Iran?
of the things that upset me most was the way they treated public spaces.
The people spoke of their respect for old traditions, and faiths but I
felt they didn’t keep hold of them when they were outside of home.
Having enjoyed being invited into Iranian family homes, and treated with
fine hospitality, cleanliness, friendship, and respect. For then to go
into the street where people somehow lost some of these attributes, and
had less respect for each other or the public space. Crossing the road
became a nightmare everyone obliviously unaware of the other driver or
pedestrian, the blatant throwing of garbage, and wasted food.
Que; what impressed you in Iran?
traditional skills are kept alive, and that traditions are not lost they
are passed down from father to son. After previously visiting the Taj
Mahal in India realized that its architect is Persian, I became
fascinated by the old designs of Iran. All around the country I saw the
harmony between nature, and architecture.
there Is a good family bond, and helpfulness for the traveler I found
that I could go with their agenda, and that’s just what happened to
Que; what is your
impression about this festival?
Having been told that the
festival had never had any outside sponsorship I was very impressed.
Arriving tired after a long bus ride, and boat trip, I was brightened up
by an amazing island with a Martian type landscape surrounded by clear
blue water. More than a hundred, young artists attended the festival
over a few days. Their environmental art will send a strong message to
the people of our planet.
Que; what is the
impact of war on the environment?
As we all know there will
never be peace in our world, but by making a peaceful protest with art
we can get the message across to others in the hope they will listen.
Visiting Abadan, and Khoramshar I saw at first hand the debris and scars
of war when only across the river Iraq lay with its daily bloodshed.
After wars the
environments become polluted by it, people still losing legs long after
the soldiers have gone.
Que; what we
environmental artist can do for global peace?
Since coming recently into environmental art, I have found that it sends
a clear message directly to us, instead of having a piece of art work in
your home for the individual to enjoy. You have piece of work that the
general public can understand, and learn from.
works can send a clearer message to all that our earth needs live in
harmony, and not against it.
CV; Benjamin Hewett
born in London at the height of the sixties, and was brought up by an
his studies at school he went onto to take an apprentaship in marble
masonry, with his new skills he traveled around the world working for marble
companies in countries such as Thailand, Japan, Australia, and the USA, with
this experience he returned to London to start a business after many years
in London he felt it was time for a change, and sold his business packed his
bag, and brought an old camper van and headed west to Wales to go visit a
blacksmith at his forge after a short stay he decided to buy an old barn,
and started making a new life, but he felt that he wanted to open new
horizons and become a sculptor/artist so he went to college to learn
sculpture/bronze investing, and after completing and higher national diploma
he set about building his studio to become the sculptor he desired to be.