From the atmospheres crafted behind closed doors to the rituals practiced within, the home series invites members of our community to reflect on the meaning of home, in their own words. We hope this series offers our readers a sense of inspiration and groundedness during these summer months.
In our latest edition of the Home Series, we welcome Isik Sayarer to dive into this topic. After studies in environmental science and fine art, Isik has been working as artistic director of SASA Works alongside her partner Craig as well as cultivating artistic practice Fourthland. She explores the meeting of land, craft, myth and the sacred.
How do you describe the work you do?
I make and design objects, spaces, performance and ceremonies that seek to attune everyday life as something that is sacred, to reclaim something of the realm of myth and our sensuous place in the universe
How do you decide what kinds of objects and fabrics you live with? What draws you to particular items over others?
Most of the objects and furniture that we have in the house we have made ourselves and we are making bits slowly over time for the house - alongside gathering special pieces from other makers.
I am drawn to objects where the final form has a sense of embodied care and story and somehow carries the energy of the maker/essence of material as a transformation between maker and material. We gather what we feel are sacred forms for our home slowly over time, sometimes a stone or old sea weathered piece of wood or a handmade object.
The question makes me think of the words in Turkish for art – in the Turkish language there is not a separation materially or process wise, between what is art and what is craft – the distinction of the two is in the energy that the final pieces carry. Zanaat – are pieces whatever the material that have been copied, reproduced and made, primarily with an outcome to sell them. Sanaat – are pieces of whatever the material that embodies the essence of the sacred and the hands of the maker carrying something of a rare uniqueness.
Tell us about a time in which you felt close to nature.
I feel close to nature everyday, even the time spent in the city, watching the birds doing their morning movements in the tree branches, taking time to look at the sky in the evening before going to bed. I love lying on the earth and having trees that I visit almost daily that are close to my home that I take offerings to.
When not in the city, I like to be in as much wild nature as possible, close to the ground, surrounded by simple, humble and raw landscapes. I have a deep love of mountains and the places where wild herb smells fill the currents of the air and the mountain reaches out towards the sea.
What kinds of heirlooms do you have in your life? Please describe one or two precious items that have remained in your family for generations.
My life has always been about cultures, woven together being half English and half Turkish. The heirlooms that we have reflect this tapestry.
From the Turkish side we have a dowry chest with made textiles in it from 3 generations of women. They were village women with a wealth of skills to make delicate crochet, lace work and scarves, pieces for edgings for clothes and rugs that they would have made from a young age.
From the English side, most recently woodworking tools that SASA uses often. We also have a Stone age knife from Mauritius. My mother’s great grandfather was into botany and his interest in Darwin and natural history took him to Mauritius inspired by an original copy of Origin of the Species that still sits on the bookcase.
Tell us about a cherished item of clothing you’ve kept and repaired over the years. Where did it come from? How has it lasted this long? What do you enjoy about wearing and owning this particular garment?
I have a real love for silk and I have a few handwoven and madder root dyed silk scarves from Southern Turkey that I find myself wearing all the time. They were made in a village workers cooperative and to care for them I wash them by hand in an enamel bowl and anoint them with essential oils – the scarves are soft and light and have this special lustre that feels wise and calming. Over the years as the edges frayed I made them shorter and incorporated the off cuts into some of my fabric sculptures.
Can you describe an item in your home which makes you feel particularly cosy or comfortable?
Our collection of blankets that we keep in a special cupboard. I love taking them out and gathering with them at different times on our handmade sofa in front of the fire, nestled within a window to the garden.
How do you care for your most loved items of clothing?
By wearing them with love and joy and washing them with liquids that are kind to nature. I try to wear a sacred thing each day instead of keeping everything for special occasions, as everyday is a sacred experience. We designed a cupboard that is part functional and part ornamental that Craig made from Cedar wood and Douglas fir which holds many of the fabrics and clothing pieces that we love.
Would you say you have a uniform? Are there particular pieces of clothing you tend to wear constantly, and which you keep in your wardrobe for years on end?
Yes absolutely! I have a selection of well loved pieces that I wear almost constantly – with certain items especially for the different types of work that I do. I also have a selection of old special pieces found in markets that hang as daily inspiration in my bedroom that I wear for special moments.
What kinds of considerations do you factor in when you’re choosing a special piece of clothing or homeware to invest in?
When choosing something that we will live with each day it feels really important that the piece has a connection to the hand that made it and that it carries a message of care for the land and something of the sacred connection of hand and maker – we have a lot of pieces from makers, like the special cups and plates we have made by a ceramist and friend Karoi.
We feel that the pieces that make up the home, have the power to inspire, heal and change our way of being so it feels important to choose them from a desire of what we are wanting to call in as a gratitude for each day – allowing the pieces to inform and sculpt the rituals of everyday life.
Where do you turn to find inspiration?
I am continuously drawn to sacred objects and places throughout the world and beings and places where the communion with the land and ceremony is evident in the way of everyday life – something of the sacred breath of the land meeting the breath of the body, skill of the hand.