Years ago, inspired by the Bell Jar, I read Silvia Plath’s diaries. The salient memory of that labour was how artfully she translated even the most banal daily event, giving a literary sheen to often underwhelming everyday existence. Al Saadi works the same kind of magic here, but in a visual way.
The artist’s work comprises brief handwritten diary entries stored in small readymade containers such as cigarette tins and chocolate boxes. Although I can’t read his texts, the look of the scrolls and concertinas in their characterful tins each seem to tell a particular story.
The spare, traditional method of display gives the work a museological feel, turning each diary into an artefact in itself. According to the gallery text, Al Saadi’s dairies contain ‘aphorisms, meditations… accounts of encounters, reports of travels’. These self-contained chapters could almost be given as gifts or keepsakes.
I often feel that we rush through life with our daily routines, commitments and habits filling our days, not leaving us time to reflect or savour the quiet moments; our small daily pleasures. Al Saadi’s artwork glorifies these moments, and allows us to see our own with the same subtle reverence as he has given his.