Mona Saudi, Jordanian sculptor of 'Mother and Earth', dies aged 76

Mona Saudi, Jordanian sculptor of 'Mother and Earth', dies aged 76
Saudi gained worldwide acclaim for her sandstone sculptures, which were heavily influenced by ancient Levantine civilisations. 
2 min read
18 February, 2022
Acclaimed sculptor Mona Saudi at work in Beirut [Photo courtesy of Lawrie Shabibi gallery]

Mona Saudi, Jordanian sculptor and long-term resident of Beirut, passed away Wednesday, according to her daughter, artist Dia Batal.

“With the heaviest heart, I share that my beautiful mama, sweetest grandmother and extraordinary artist, Mona Saudi, has left us last night in her beloved city Beirut. Words fail me beyond this,” Batal said.

Saudi, who began dedicating her life to art aged just 20, gained worldwide acclaim for her monumental sandstone sculptures heavily influenced by ancient Levantine civilisations. 

“I took long walks through the bare hills of my then very small town, Amman, where our house was surrounded by ancient ruins dating back many millennia, from the age of the Ammonites, the Edomites and the Nabateans, who were all stone carvers, and I felt and still feel that I belong to these ancestors,” she said in 2010. 

After moving from Amman to join the burgeoning art scene in Beirut in 1970, Saudi became a close friend to those in the vanguard of modernist Arabic poetry - friendships that were to have a profound impact on her sculptural work. 

Throughout the Lebanese civil war, the sculptor continued developing her craft, inspired by poets Adonis and Mahmoud Darwish, amongst others. Her public works include monumental works such as Géométrie de l’esprit (1987), which is installed outside the Arab World Institute in Paris. 

Saudi predominantly used stone found from across the Middle East, such as jade, Jordanian marble, limestone and sandstone.

"I take what I need from this earth," she said in a 2015 interview. "It is our mother and whatever, age, race or creed. We all belong to this earth."

She said of her sculptures, “I am never fed up of seeing them, because they are my beloved ones…in spite of the hundreds of sculptures I have made, I still have the feeling that I am just at the beginning.’

Speaking to her daughter on Instagram just four weeks before she passed away, Saudi said: “While the body dies, those we love stay living with us through love.”