Friday, January 17, 2014

New 'renovations' page.



Early 2014 finds me reorganising the pages on the blog. I have made a new page entitled 'Renovations' so go there -   (talk about stating the obvious), for any renovation updates on the Centre of Ceramic Research, Siwa Oasis. I need to leave this feed free for my up to date postings regarding my practice-led research.

I have however retained the first blog post of the 'renovation' series (below) to present a sense of time frame and an indication of what I have been up to these last few months re the continued to-ing and fro-ing to Siwa Oasis.

Bare with me, during further 'upgrades'.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Siwa through history


The Importance of Following The Dream.

I have at last and after some careful consideration, found the perfect location to set up the centre for community ceramics / International residency in Siwa.

I have a head full of ideas about ways of moving forward with this, slight apprehension re distance but nothing that can’t be solved down to earth communication. Overall I have to surrender myself to everything happening at Siwan pace while bearing in mind, for example, that much of the repair work can only happen in the hot summer months as that is what the karsheef needs to ‘dry’.  
The work will be done in several stages. InshAllah, there will be many future blogs on the development of both the renovation of the house and my sketchy "what the centre is going to be used for" ideas.

I am also stepping up my doctorate application. So it's all systems go here. For now, I endeavour to spare the reader of my ever-meandering thoughts by keeping the focus simply on the building and location.

Southerly aspect.

Southerly aspect.

The house is the taller of the two. High on the list of priorities regarding the renovation of the building is the reinstatement of the curved walls. There looks to be a repair job gone awry at the front of the house with a sizeable crack requiring attention. I am reassured that it is relatively easy to repair old karsheef and that this traditional building material of salt brick and mud can be reused. Karsheef construction is entirely unique to Siwa Oasis. I hear that there are only three or four locals who have the expertise today. I will be honoured to meet such a craftsman.

Southerly aspect.

South and South Westerly aspects.

The crack that will be repaired as and when that section of the wall is rebuilt & the present door that may or may not remain.

Northernly aspect including the old Siwi toilet area that I think was used by neighbouring houses/s. It is very important to me to keep the curve despite its present bad state of repair. The blocked up front door, whose use is soon to be revoked, is just visable before the wall curves out.

Looking East. The old front door that is blocked up on the north facing facade ( where the summer rooms are traditionally positioned.)

And....saving the best until last - the utterly amazing roof views. I could do a blog alone on the views from the roof! Though perhaps a novel would be better!  

Incredible IS the word; view west towards the ruins of medieval Shali.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Some Siwa Poetry

I have quite a few Siwa-inspired poems. I think I will have to include a new page on the blog for such at a later date. Once I am back from Siwa ( with more poems inshallah & a new video too). These two pieces of work stretch back to 2008.

Sticks of Pomegranate.

If I could take these sticks
from the raised hands of donkey driving boys
hold them high above the clattering carts
I could meld
into the evening shade
sipping tea from tiny cups.

I wouldn’t have to stir
if I could slip these
pomegranate sticks
this slipping ball of flame,

scoop -
its dissolving mass from the fractured sky,
the call to Ishaa would never come
nor- the Matrou bus outside El Sulieman draw.

Waiting for the ATM machine to be fixed.
August 2008. Siwa Oasis.

In this sleepy out of season oasis,
there is no need for hard currency,
few tourists pass this way,
and nobody in their right mind would
haggle a crossing to Bahariyya Oasis.

Beleaguered donkeys collapse in the shade
and locals, slumped undercover
over tiny cups of Liptons,
barter -
shares of the date harvest;
and schemes to get an off the road 4WD back on the desert track
for the encroaching season -

when currency will babble like the springs of Cleopatra and Fatnas;
fuzzy, grubby, curled old notes
pulled from the pouches of wannabe explorers
and folded
into gracious pockets of pristine white gallibayas.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Another period of waiting envelops my everyday. I have been to Siwa and back during August, but have, as yet, held back from posting too much about my future, very exciting, plans regarding the setting up of a Ceramic-orientated Residency. At the time of travelling, I was writing more about the security situation in Egypt, in the form of my ( very rough) novel? manuscript, while, all too frequently ignoring adding information here.  I did have a draft entry blog entitled   " A guide to the airports of Egypt" because I was sleeping in several around the time of the mid-august massacre as I had opted to travel internally on domestic flights as a safety precaution - but, I'm afraid to say, it's contents got merged with other work and never saw the light of day!

I am now planning a return visit to Siwa. With my seventeen year old daughter, the only one of my four girls who has never been outside of Europe. During this trip I hope to firm up legal contracts etc ( through Arabic - that will be fun!) -  in order to progress to the next stage. InshAllah we will be located in a fabulous position across the old winding passages of Shali, the ancient fortress town.

Here's a taster of the local neighbourhood to whet your clay-dust thirst...For the time being I aim to refrain from any actual posting of the location location location, until things are firmed up a little more. In the meantime I intend to post historical info about Siwa for general edification and to help pass the time until the various slow-moving aspects of my life culminate in an almighty walloping leap of faith forth.

View from Shali
Karsheef and Sahara
Karsheef and palm roof
Passageway. Shali.
View from Shali
Lissie 2011 Within These Walls of Karsheef trip.
Lissie 2011 Within These Walls of Karsheef trip.
Donkey Within These Walls of Karsheef.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

8th August 2013

Eid Mubarak to you all. I had hoped Ramadan would be a time of peaceful, calm, reflective insight through prayer and written word. Not so; there has been writing, in fact more regular writing than for a long time, but charged with frustration and exasperation over the escalating situation in Egypt and the useless diseased rhetoric that that pits one life against the other. Prayers have helped me focus on what needs to be done but offer little solace to my troubled heart. I have taken to keeping a fairly extensive journal, partly to record and sort the confusion of my thoughts upon the increasingly grave situation. I intend to post excerpts here over the coming weeks.