Collection NameButt, Hamad
Reference Number (click the number to browse all records in this collection)TGA 201919
Alternative Reference NumberM00150
TitleThe archive of Hamad Butt
Date19th century-2018
Extent18 boxes
Access StatusOPEN
LocationManuscript collection
DescriptionThe archive of Hamad Butt documents his life and output as a student and artist, with preparatory and documentary material for his major installations 'Transmission' (1990) and 'Familiars' (1992), as well as other work.

The archive covers the full scope of Hamad Butt's career as a student through the 1980s, including St Martin's College of Art & Design, finishing at Goldsmiths where he graduated in 1990; and his early career before his death in 1994.

Butt retained most of his course paperwork as well as his preparatory research and working notes for all his work, allowing for a full understanding not only for the genesis of his sculptural installations but also for the course of his development as an artist through the teaching he received primarily at Goldsmiths.
ArrangementThe archive was arranged in the following sequence :

TGA 201919/1 Correspondence
TGA 201919/2 Artwork
TGA 201919/3 Notebooks & sketchbooks
TGA 201919/4 Objects
TGA 201919/5 Education
TGA 201919/6 Writings
TGA 201919/7 Personal
TGA 201919/8 Photographs
TGA 201919/9 Publications
TGA 201919/10 Ephemera
Format3D object
Photograph - print
Bound volume - miscellaneous
Photograph - negative
Artwork - miscellaneous
Document - miscellaneous
LanguageEnglish, Spanish
Related MaterialThere is file related to Butt in the archive of his Goldsmiths' tutor, Jon Thompson (TGA 20185).
Administrative HistoryHamad Butt is a significant yet still under-recognised figure in 1990s British art and was widely regarded as among the most promising artists of his generation before his untimely death from an AIDS-related illness in 1994. His Goldsmiths' contemporaries included those like Gary Hume (born 1962) and Damien Hirst (born 1965), who formed the core of the generation of artists widely identified by the mid-1990s as the Young British Artists (YBAs).

Butt was born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1962; his family moved to the UK when he was a child. He attended various London art schools between 1980-1987, including Morley College and St Martin's School of Art, where he had a special interest in printmaking. This may have been the period of his first solo exhibition, exhibition, 'This guy's in disguise', at LLGC (London Lesbian and Gay Centre). He contributed prints to group exhibitions at Jablonski Gallery (October 1986) and Leigh Gallery, London (Winter 1986), and at 'The South London Open', South London Art Gallery (September-October 1986), and Paddington Printshop's group exhibition 'J'ouvert : the spirit of carnival in print' (1989).

Butt's brief artistic career was nonetheless characterised by a complex and ambitious installation-based practice. Studying fine art at Goldsmiths' college, London, between 1987-1990, Butt presented 'Transmission' at his degree show in 1990, an installation inspired by science fiction and scientific experiment. It transferred the same year to the Milch gallery, London, and was later remounted at the group exhibition '000 zerozerozero : British Asian cultural provocation’, Whitechapel Art Gallery (July 2019). Having been presented to Tate in 2019 by Hamad's brother Jamal, 'Transmission' (T15512) was displayed in Tate Britain's 2023 rehang.

Science both as empirical practice and in popular culture fed into Butt's next and last major work, the installation 'Familiars', which developed from experiments with English chemist Garry Rumbles on the stability of chemical elements. Commissioned by the John Hansard Gallery at the University of Southampton, it was displayed there in August-September 1992 before transferring to Milch in October-November. It was posthumously included in the group exhibition 'Rites of passage : art for the end of the century' at the Tate Gallery (1995), where Butt was the youngest artist represented. Jamal gifted 'Familiars' (T14779) to Tate in 2015. In 2018 it was successfully re-presented at the new site of the John Hansard Gallery.

An unfinished artist's book was published as 'Hamad Butt : Familiars' by John Hansard Gallery and inIVA (Institute of International Visual Arts) in 1996. Documents relating to Butt's work were displayed in the SHIFT-curated exhibition ‘Current research : charts, evidence, & other documentation’, Millais Gallery, Southampton (May-June 1998), travelling to Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art, Sunderland (January-March 1999); and at 'The horror show! : a twisted tale of modern Britain', Somerset House, London (October 2022-February 2012), co-curated by artists Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard.

Because Butt was careful to retain his papers throughout his career the archive is extremely rich not just in terms of the preparatory writing and work for his installations but also offers a rare view on teaching practice at St Martins and especially at Goldsmiths', where he was a student between 1987 and 1990 when he graduated. It will also be able to reconstruct aspects of Butt's life as a gay man; besides the work, there is material including correspondence with and photographs of queer lovers and friends, draft texts on queer artists and queer identity, sketches, press cuttings, and some documentation relating to 'Section 28', Margaret Thatcher's Conserverative government anti-homosexuality laws.
Acquisition SourcePresented by Jamal Butt 2019
Custodial HistoryThe artist; inherited by the artist's brother.
Add to My Items