It has been a scorching few days during my most recent visit to Luxor, 45 degrees in the shade and goodness knows what it has been under the full sun. Now as we head back north, we follow the mighty Nile far below. As she snakes towards Cairo and Alexandria we turn north-west over the Western Desert and over the Egyptian coastline once again and head towards the luxuriously cool air of Northern Europe.
I have now been making this journey since the Autumn of 2006, when I first visited the communities of Alawamia and Gezeera on the southern edge of Luxor to make a series of portraits. Things have changed here a great deal since that first visit with two revolutions first bringing hope, then despair as the Egyptian people wish for a better and fairer life, in’shallah. The tourists still come but nowhere like the numbers pre-Revolution and Luxor is a very different place to the town of a few years ago.
During the past nine years I have travelled to Luxor, and with each visit I have in some way continued to make art work using a wide range of media, collecting information or simply watching the world go by and writing a few musings along the way.
This has resulted in a large body of work as these experiences have been documented… sketchbooks, drawings, oils studies, etchings and drypoints, the ancient medium of silverpoint along with the more contemporary medium of iPad drawing have all helped to tell part of this story. Diaries have been written and there are quite literally thousands of photographs.
It has been my intention for some time to begin to pull together some of experiences and images into a journal and during the last two or three visits have pondered on how this could begin to take shape. Other writing projects have dominated and until recently not allowed me the time to begin to do this.
So as I begin to sketch out these ideas I will from time to time publish a few excerpts on from the easel… about my time in Egypt, from the initial travel proposal and what lead to this, to particular aspects of my visit or one of the visual diaries of one of my many patient sitters.