Coptic Cairo – final developments

I really like the final development pieces from my Coptic Cairo rubbish project and I am working on ways to develop them using different scales and materials.

Although the project was to use rubbish rather than organic materials I seem to have come back to organic material – ply, wood,paper and rubber; I can see the iconography of the Virgin Mary but it is interesting how the design has developed:-



Coptic icons

The rest of my time was for my work. My inspiration recently has been about listening to what the landscape still holds of people from disappearing cultures, so I chose to develop work about Coptic Cairo. To date I have been using organic materials as found objects in my work. As Cairo is quite short on plants and trees, Estela challenged me to make work from rubbish – which is everywhere here. We walked from the studio to the main Coptic area salvaging rubbish on the way.

The Coptic icons of the Virgin Mary breast-feeding drew me, there is a suggestion that they link back to pharoanic Egypt where Isis is depicted breast feeding; but they also seem at odds with the current Islamic culture. There is much suspicion between Moslems and Copts today.

Anyway, my starting point was to make 60 virgins from the street rubbish.

The first thirty or so were quite figurative, but they allowed me to identify shape and line, which linked with the Virgin but maybe had something more.

I could show you all 34, but here are the top 6.

1chipii 2chip 3coke copy 5triptychi copy 8medallion stone copy

Cairo continued

Continuing the Cairo internship story….Estela Saez (do look her up) is Design Director of the Azza Fahmy Design Studio, and a charismatic contemporary jeweler. For half my time I worked on her current design project. As it is work in progress she has requested that I don’t share pics, but I can’t wait to see how it develops. Estela takes about 3 years to develop a project and is in the second year of this one. I made about 25 reproductions of three different paper models, in scrumpled paper (shiny side out) in different sizes. Estela will use these to make decisions on where to go next with the design idea.

I also prepared some metal samples, testing texture, gauge and form.

The Design Studio is the newish jewellery school established by Azza Fahmy. Azza is probably the best-known high end Egyptian jeweler and a lovely woman. The studio has links with Alchimia in Florence. As term was over I also did some informal helping with the students who were still doing their own work and learned loads about Egyptian tastes in jewellery.

This view is from my flat in Maa’di Degla.


And, yes, I did go the gemstone store in Khal el Kahlili and this is some of what I bought…


Cairo – Azza Fahmy Design Studio

I’ve just come to the end of a 3 week internship in Cairo, at the Azza Fahmy Design studio with Estela Saez. It has been exciting, challenging and ultimately great fun and a great experience. Cairo in July is hot, dusty and lazy, so a flexible approach to life is needed. So, what did I do?
The first week we set up the students’ end of year show – Constellations. It took inspiration from one of the student’s work with holes. The work was displayed on floating black circular tables, they floated with the aid of fishing line and strong hooks drilled in the ceiling and floor. My work involved the wee hooks on the tables, the black paint and a brush n pan. Sorry no pics, as it wasn’t my work.
But this pic captures Cairo street life pretty well, it was just like this on my walk from the metro to the studio, except dustier.