The last time I saw Sahar Bardaie, we were both crying.
I was a mess. It was my last day in Tehran and she had come to say goodbye.
In the last few days, I had seen my belongings packed, had said goodbye to my neighbours, had to let go of my apartment and bid farewell to the neighbourhood I had lived in for 4 years.
The worst had been the difficulty to say goodbye to my friends, so I was already exhausted emotionally and fully aware how hard the last few moments would be.
Suddenly filled with emotion, she told me she had to leave because it was too hard to say goodbye. I told her I understood and stood there seeing her leave, trying to smile one last time.
The moment she left, I broke down. Sahar had always been such a good friend, always willing to help whenever I needed.
But she had also been a source of inspiration. Before I even got to know her well, her beautiful work as an illustrator for children’s books and other publications, had touched me in different ways.
From the start I knew I wanted to take a piece of her art back to Vienna. I was lucky to be able to visit her studio and see at different times, what she was working on. There was this particular series which had caught my eye.
The botanical series that she started in 2019.
Her inspiration came from local beliefs expressed in Iranian poetry and myths related to the relationship between plants and the wind that makes them flourish. But also she had been thinking for some time about the large agricultural lands that are constantly plowed, the uniformity and regularity of the lines of the soil.
This series was going to be exhibited in Istanbul in May 2020 but of course the Covid-19 crisis started and plans got postponed. I’m happy Sahar is still working on the series and once it is possible, I hope she will be able to exhibit it.
I fell in love with one of the plants in her series. The beautiful simplicity of the flower and the regular lines of the soil, are a soothing sight just next to my work desk.
Often when my thoughts are cloudy, I look at Sahar’s work. It helps me clear my mind and become more grounded.
For me, as a photographer, artworks are not static. They are dynamic. The way we perceive an artwork can change for example with the angle we see it from, our mood, our life experiences, the light that reflects on it.
Sahar’s work also made me think how agriculture seems to be the one constant, oblivious to the world’s crisis. As long as the climate collaborates and security is there, farmers keep to their routines to feed us. Pandemic or no pandemic, they get up before sunrise and start ploughing, planting and harvesting. Rain or shine, they follow the seasons and hope there will be enough for everybody. Without them, we would not be able to sustain life as we know it.
That is the beauty of art, always open to one’s interpretation. Artists like Sahar open our eyes to the world that surrounds us in ways we may have not thought before.
If you want to know more about Sahar Bardaie’s artistry and artwork you can check her instagram account at: