In Conversation

Hana Al Saadi

14 October 2014 , Doha

Hana is studying fine arts at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. Last year, she was the winner of the Damien Hirst Challenge competition, and met him in his UK studio.

In our interview, she revealed more about her passion for art, described her creative journey so far, and talked about her personal motivations.

Question 01

Tell me about what you’re doing at the moment

I’m majoring in Painting and Printmaking in the Fine Arts programme at VCU. I don’t see myself as a painter or a printmaker, but my teachers are kind enough to give me the freedom to explore my personal interest in fine arts, which is related to sculpture making and installations. At the moment I’m preparing for an upcoming exhibition with my colleagues called Alternative Realities at Katara Art Center, which will be revealed around 21st October.

Question 02

How did you get interested in art? Where did it all start?

I loved to draw ever since I was a child; I started studying traditional drawing and painting when I was eleven years old at the Youth Creative Art Center. My family didn’t appreciate the arts but they have always been supportive of me. Although, sometimes they suggest I think of different majors for a promising career and keep art as a hobby! I studied contemporary art in VCUQ and I actually enjoyed it more than the drawings and paintings that I did earlier. My work changed dramatically over the last few years and I am very happy with its progression.

Question 03

In what way has your art progressed?

Over the years I’ve improved my skills working in the woodshop by creating various sculptures and installations. I took more risks by using the methods and techniques that I started to learn.


Question 04

What inspires you to do the work you do?

I search about different artists all the time. Some I adore their work and some not that much. I always think about the concept first, and then think about the best way to illustrate it. I still watch and enjoy cartoons/animations and children related topics. Usually when people grow old, they forget about their childhood interests, but that hasn’t been the case for me. The more cartoons and animations I watch, the more inspired I become.


"All of my artistic skills vary depending on the concepts that trigger my inspiration."

Question 06

You were the winner of Damien Hirst Challenge Competition. What was the winning piece of art you created?

I created an elongated box; it’s made of wood and acrylic sheets that contain dirt, snails, a piece of printing paper and a leaf on top of it. The viewer can see the life cycle of the snails while they eat, mate and reproduce. The snails also create prints with their slime trails without realizing it. The final outcome of the piece is having slime prints of the snails’ trails that actually print their life cycle on the paper inside the box. See the Snail Print Factory here.


Snail Print Factory

Question 07

What was it like visiting Hirst’s studio and creating work with him?

First, I’ll answer the question that I always receive from people who know I visited him; was Damien nice to you? Yes! He is very nice and down to earth. He showed me his place, talked about his work and how he makes the different pieces, he also showed me some behind the scenes artwork that he will exhibit sometime in future.

Question 08

Do you think artists will be excited to see the Fire Station Artist in Residence programme?

Yes! And I hope to be one of those lucky artists to have a studio there. I think it is an incredible idea. Many countries have studio spaces for artists, and now Qatar is realizing the importance of having studios for its residents. It’s difficult for artists to have a studio with most of the needed facilities, and what Qatar is doing now for us artists is incredible. I don’t know how many artists the fire station can take, but I hope it is enough for most artists in Doha and the upcoming generation. I can guarantee Qatar will be pleased with the upcoming artist communities.


Hana's Limo wheelbarrow

Question 09

What does creativity mean to you?

Unusual imagination.  We all have brains to think, solve problems and imagine, etc. Many of them have similar imaginations. I call those who have unusual imagination with new ideas, creative.


Wave, a 3D pattern project by Hana

Check out Hana's work here and keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram.

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