Teabag Stories

Nahid Riyasad | Published at 12:00am on September 09, 2018

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Art is the process of expression of someone’s thoughts and to do so, many have taken different mediums. In case of Md Sadit Uz Zaman, he has chosen used tea bags, a rather unconventional medium, as his canvas to create artwork. Nahid Riyasad talks about his artistic endeavour as well as his political essence.

New Age Youth: Tell us about yourself. Since when have you felt the urge to create art?

Sadit: I am the person behind the artworks under the banner of ‘Teabag Stories’ where I have chosen used tea bags as my canvas to portray the things I like. This is a kind of recycle art. However, I do not exclusively use tea bags as my canvas, rather, I do art on other mediums as well. I did not get any formal education on art, rather, I am a business graduate who majored in marketing. During my marketing career, for over four years, I had to face clients demand by creating new ideas, by thinking out of the box. I think, this gave me a different perspective in art thus igniting my urge to create something new and unusual.

New Age Youth: Could you please draw your journey with art before us?

Sadit: I think, I had the tendency to create art since my childhood, which came out in different manners. An incident I can recall, when I was very young, I painted village scenery on an ice-cream box, which gained praise from my relatives. Also, I have painted on different surfaces- school notebook, practical script, and for university projects or stage dramas which helped me to grow my artistic mind.

In my artwork, it is often observed that insignificant objects become art, I like doing this. By creating art from dumped things have two dimensions; on one hand it gives me immense pleasure and on the other hand, transforming a neglected object gives me the sense of accomplishment as well as allows me to present a positive vibe.

New Age Youth: Who inspired you in your artistic endeavour? Is there anyone in particular who inspires you?

Sadit: I think my family has been my biggest source of inspiration. Moreover, my father is an excellent artist and my mother is a woman of sophisticated taste which turned my home into a lively and spontaneous atmosphere.

However, our nature is another immense inspiration for me. Transition from one season to another, tickles my artistic mind. The doldrums before a tempest, khichuri at the first site of rain, drying up warm clothes and duvets before the arrival of the winter-everything is my inspiration. These feelings are often expressed in my artwork, and they get mixed with Rabindranath, Humayun Ahmed or Arnab.

However, should I choose a specific name as my inspiration, I would say Ruby Silvia, an American artist, whose work actually helped me starting ‘Teabag Stories’.

Md Sadit Uz Zaman sipping from a cup of tea.



New Age Youth
: Would you like to share the journey behind ‘Teabag Stories’? And, why tea bags, above all?

Sadit: The scattered thoughts that come across my mind – at the start of the day, tea break during work, during lonely afternoons or a chitchat session with friends, I needed something to pamper those thoughts as well as trigger thoughts in audience’s minds. Tea is a solace for my soul, as well as a comfort. In order to combine these passions of mine, the journey of ‘Teabag Stories’ commenced. However, there were some specific reasons for choosing tea bags as my canvas. Despite my experience with other platforms, the reason I choose teabags was that it allows me to express my mind within a small space. I have big pieces that I am yet to complete, however, this is not the case with teabags. Another reason is its availability and ease of storage.

This kind of artwork was rare in Bangladesh, so to introduce this in our arena I started creating art on teabags. Creating artworks on teabags started in 2014, though it became regular in 2015. Not many artists have taken teabags as platform, so I gathered my courage and sent samples of my art to Ruby, my inspiration. She wholeheartedly appreciated my initiative which gave me the courage to go on. Now, I have over 400 teabag artworks.

New Age Youth: From your art, we can sense a certain kind of political understanding. How do you find the present situation of the country for a freethinking artist?

Sadit: Painting is an activity which gives pleasure to my soul, the core. I want this place always as clear as the azure sky. However, not everything happens according to my wish; that sky often gets covered with dark cloud. Art is such a medium which is not, in any way, devoid of responsibility. I did not see the independence war, however, I was born in an independent country. I did not see the charismatic personality of our first president Sheikh Mujib, however, he comes in my art often. Likewise, when I see his political party taking a decision against the better interest of the people, I feel sad and it gets expressed in my art. I portrayed Holy Artisan incident or war in Syria in my artwork. Especially, some recent incidents often make me think about the kind of society we are living in right now. Even unconsciously, my art bears those ideas and expectations. I wish, the independence we achieved with blood, is enough to allow everyone to express their thoughts and mind without any fear.

New Age Youth: On the context of the last two student movements, what are your thoughts on Bangladeshi youth? Do you think they have enough opportunity to maximise their potentials?

Sadit: The last students’ movement gave me a certain experience. Before this, I have never seen Dhaka traffic as organised, except in cantonment areas. The demonstration our students staged was no less than a cinematic presentation where they have pointed out the flaws of our traffic system. Their language of resistance is nothing but exceptional. A movement, without ravaging property and people’s belonging is an indication that this country is safe in the hands of this generation.

New Age Youth: Do you have any specific plan with your art in the future?

Sadit: In my artwork, I try to portray not only my thoughts, but also my country. I have plans to represent my country in a more elaborate manner on a world stage. I have plans to organise some exhibitions with my artwork as well. Pleasure can be acquired from trivial matters too you know, I try to capture that in my art. I don’t know how much I have managed to do so, but if my art can spread a little bit of happiness, that would be my greatest achievement.

Md Sadit Uz Zaman is a young artist