Hana Al Saadi sitting in a workshop surrounded by fresh clay objects
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In Conversation: Hana Al Saadi

15 July 2014

A year after winning the 2013 Damien Hirst Challenge competition, artist Hana Al Saadi talks about her passion for art, her creative journey and her personal motivations.

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How did you first get interested in art?

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

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

Hana Al Saadi, Student

What inspires you?

I search for 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 topics related to children. 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.

In the past, I used to only draw and paint. The only thing I cared about was getting the proportions right and making my drawings or paintings as realistic as possible. Being in VCU, I learnt the beauty of concepts through my practice, and my work became more conceptual. Most of my work now relies on the use of concepts. During my studies, I also discovered my fields of interest, which are sculptures and installations. All of my artistic skills vary depending on the concepts that trigger my inspiration.

You were the winner of the 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.

What was it like visiting Hirst's studio?

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.

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.

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

Hana Al Saadi wearing safety goggles and bending down to work on an upright wheelbarrow

Hana Al Saadi at work in her studio

Long dark green wheelbarrow created by Hana Al Saadi standing in front of a small garden at Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar

Hana Al Saadi's Limo wheelbarrow

Microscopic view of a single green leaf alongside snails moving in and across it

Another of her works, titled Snail print factory

Minimalistic curve of a three-dimension brown wave pattern shown on a digital screen

Hana Al Saadi's 3D pattern project, titled Wave