Re-turn to the ancient land

Daily Star Egypt Staff
4 Min Read

Coptic icons, Bedouin textiles and Cavafy-inspired prints are some of the original pieces currently on exhibit at Mashrabia Gallery.

“Re-turn features works by three international artists who used to live in Egypt. It’s a tribute to the days Ros Ford, Sally Hampson and John O’Carroll lived in the country and a testament to their ongoing relationship with Egypt and Egyptians which continues to inspire and inform their work.

Ford, who previously exhibited at Mashrabia and the British Council, will display works including a silk-screen, etchings, fabric and digital prints. He will also be showing artists books, some of which had been previously shown at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

“I draw inspiration from the movement and vibrant color of contemporary Egypt, together with icons and textiles of ancient, Coptic and Greco-Roman Egypt, he says.

As for Hampson – who graduated from London’s Royal College of Art and holds a master’s degree in textiles – she uses narratives and stories, real and imagined to illustrate in her art.

The inspiration for these stories was 1920s-30s traveller and anthropologist Kitty Lake, whose own life hovered on the edge of a real and an imagined world.

Lake’s illustrated journeys by Hampson grew into a collection of artefacts which were shown as installations at The Horniman Museum in London and The Pitt Rivers Museum Oxford, England in the early 1990s.

The exhibit coincided with an invitation to Egypt by The British Council to work with different groups of Bedouin weavers. That gave Hampson the opportunity to travel to the more remote parts of the desert.

The project, she says, enabled her to follow Kitty Lake’s footsteps in the Western Desert and Sinai and the resulting exhibition was shown at the British Council in Cairo.

“When I first arrived in Egypt I immediately felt at home with its richness of colors and textures, and its history of storytelling and poetry, she recalls.

For “Re-turn she created a new collection inspired by the poetry of C.P. Cavafy (1863-1933) – the Greek poet who lived and died in Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria. It is a group of woven and printed textiles.

O’Carroll, who lived and worked for five months on the Dakhleh Oasis Project during each of the 20 years he spent in Egypt, combined work as an artist with that of an archaeological illustrator.

He says: “I learned from the conservators on the project how to make my own paints, grinding and collecting pigments in the desert and using beeswax and camel bone glue.

In Dakhleh O’Carroll would spend hours for instance, illustrating a stone tool from prehistoric times then go to his studio to make abstract impressionistic works.

He will be exhibiting a selection of academic images of ancient artefacts from Dakhleh, calligraphic color poems and works related to the landscape, environment and spirit of the oasis. -Agencies

Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art8 Champollion St., 578 4494On until Jan. 18, 2007Closed Fridays 11am-8 pm

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