Merna Liddawi is an award winning British-Jordanian artist living and working in the UK. She describes her art as ‘a spiritual journey to discover hidden beauty in the universe’. Others have spoken of her work as ‘touching the unknown’. Her unique technique of using traditional methods handed down from artisans, which she developed over many years, has caught the attention of art collectors, curators and historians.
After completing a Science (Physics) degree in Cairo, Liddawi moved to the UK in 1994 where she taught Maths for many years. She completed her MFA (Master in Fine Art) with distinction from Sussex University, UK (West Dean College).
Liddawi’s work has been shown in several group exhibitions in London. She had a solo show ‘Revelation’ at Asia House, London and exhibited internationally in Venice, Portugal and at the XI Florence Biennale. Liddawi has been selected for the APS Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale in Malta 2017–18 and will be exhibiting at Art Rooms in 2018, Melia House, London.
She was awarded the prestigious ‘Lorenzo il Magnifico’ painting award at the XI Florence Biennale 17 and won 'ArtGemini Prize' in Painting and Sculpture 2016. She has also been nominated for Edward James Foundation trustees award. She is featured in several magazines with texts written about her work. Her paintings are in private collections in the Middle East, Europe, the USA and UK and are well sough after.
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.