Merna is a British-Jordanian artist born in Amman whose paintings have been described as touching the unknown. She describes her art as ‘a spiritual journey to discover the hidden Beauty in the universe’.
After a degree in Science from the American University in Cairo, Liddawi moved to the UK in 1994 where she established a career in maths. Her love for art led her to complete a degree in Fine Art in 2010 and continued her studies gaining an MFA (paintings and printmaking) from West Dean College in 2017.
Her paintings are in collections in Jordan, Europe, USA and the UK. Liddawi had several exhibitions in London and a solo at Asia House. She was shortlisted and won the 2nd ArtGemini prize in Painting and Sculpture in 2016. She has been selected for Florence Biennale 2017 and exhibited in Venice as part of an international group exhibition. Liddawi will be taking part in ‘The Mediterranean: A Sea of Conflicting Spiritualties’ at the Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Biennale in Malta 2017/18. She was featured in Discover More publication and other press releases.
The palimpsest of Liddawi's life – a childhood in Jordan, a grounding in the Orthodox church, a career in mathematics and science – is glimpsed through her pieces. The process is at once meditative and draws on the mystery of creation, repetition in nature and the calligraphic marks of the Arabic script. Her work opens a window onto a belief in harmonious universe and creates a space for contemplation in a world that often seems discordant and conflicted. For Liddawi art is a spiritual journey to discover the hidden beauty around us.
Using fifteenth century methods, imagery is worked in tempera made of ground mineral and earth pigments mixed with egg yoke solution. The tempera is laid down on gessoed panels prepared in the artist's studio using a lengthy process, preparing rabbit skin glue and sanding to a smooth finish. Multiple thin glazes of paint create luminous images. The panels are gilded with genuine gold leaf of various colours using medieval methods.
Process is absolutely central to the art: the authenticity of the base elements, the careful preparation of the materials and the layered depths of a gradually evolving work. The physical process of creating art was a form of worship for the medieval artist, a prayer in itself, as it can be for Liddawi too. The hidden treasures and depths glimpsed in base elements are revealed by time as if through alchemy. Yet the images created remain simple.