By Rana Khaled
Ezzat Hamed turns murder weapons into art.
Witnessing bloody clashes between protesters and security forces during the 25 January Revolution sparked, within him, an obsessive drive to immortalise the tragedy, he said. He has turned his anger and sorrow into an impressive collection of artwork made from spent ammunition he collected from the streets.
Hamed, 48, who is Egypt’s first scrap artist, started out collecting bullets, and tear gas bombs after protests on Mohammed Mahmoud Street, and turning them into motorcycles, bikes, tanks, animals, vases, tableaux and many other shapes.
But after seeing, the wiry, moving creations, “my friends and family members encouraged me to use more materials and create diverse products,” he said.
Now he uses a wide range of solid waste materials such as old toys, broken taps, rubber wheels, rusty lighters, used lamps, empty shampoo bottles as well as useless iron, nickel and copper wires he gets from the automobile repair shop he owns.
Although he didn’t formally study art, Hamed has been drawn to art since he was a child.
“People look at waste materials as garbage they need to get rid of, but I see them from a different perspective,” he said. “When we use them to produce arts, they turn into a real fortune that can help increase the national income of Egypt.”
Hamed taught himself the basics of scrap art using the internet, soon discovering that foreign artists tend to use only one type of metal. Hoping to add something new, he tried mixing different heterogeneous materials and metals to produce more attractive shapes, he said.
Although he uses almost the same kind of materials and metals every time, Hamed never repeats himself.
“Every piece inserts me into a new mood and introduces me to a new world,” he said. “I become very attached to every piece I work on, making it very hard to sell it.”
Hamed is currently working to establish a scrap art school to teach handicrafts to children.
After displaying his artwork in a number of exhibitions, including “Fan Maidan” in Abdeen Square, Cairokee market, he said parents started approaching him about teaching their children.
He has prepared a curriculum and planned for the practical sessions, but he is struggling to fund the project.
“The golden age of handicrafts in Egypt has finished,” he said. “Most crafts are now on the verge of extinction. Authorities must allocate budgets for reviving such crafts and give them a chance to flourish.”