Hi, I’M MERNA LIDDAWI, AN AWARD-WINnING ARTIST and MENTOR.
I create unique exquisite paintings by using ancient forgotten techniques, genuine gold, mineral pigments and hand-made paints to enlighten your soul
I believe art can inspire to transform and heal, bringing inner peace and solace to our lives. We need more art and beauty now than ever before as we are distracted overwhelmed in a digital age, with our computers, phones and other electronic devices. We have lost touch with ourselves, with nature and with the Creator.
I want to bring beauty and light into your life through my unique paintings.
For me, the process of painting is a time of stillness, a moment of prayer, a moment of connection with my true self and with the Divine God. I call these moments, ‘Selah’ Moments.
My mission is that you experience ‘Selah’ moments in your life too. How?
I create what I call a ‘Selah’ Space with my paintings: a space for meditation and prayer through nature’s pure elements ….. pigments, azurite, gold, chalk, egg, clay and the meditative process.
My unique ‘Selah’ process brings nature’s sacred beauty into your home where the painting acts as a ‘window’ to experience inner peace and wholeness in a noisy world.
why i create?
From the Cradle of the Middle East
I was born in Jordan to an Orthodox Christian family. Every week I absorbed the vibrant colours of the sacred images, listened to chanting music, smelled the incense and feasted my eyes on the shimmering gold and beauty of the icons. As a child, I also enjoyed visiting the ancient Roman ruins, old buildings that had become abstracted from their original purpose, leaving a trace.
Yet becoming an artist wasn’t something that was part of my cultural upbringing. My path to painting was not a linear one. I gained a Science degree (Physics), moved to England, studied theology, married, became a Maths teacher, and a mother. And then my journey continued till I became a professional painter. I consider it a divine calling.
Coming from the Middle East, neither landscapes nor figurative paintings were part of my art culture.
My work instead explores ancient marks, the microscopic, the cosmos, pattern, sacred geometry, and the spirituality of my Orthodox culture.
I developed my techniques over many years of intensive practice including formal training (MFA). Inspired by the sacred icon of my youth, I gravitated to using gold, earth and mineral pigments and geometry as symbols of beauty, light and spirituality. My math training came handy! Every aspect of my art is made by hand with love and care so as to share it with my collectors.
The palimpsest of my life – a childhood in Jordan, a grounding in the Orthodox church, a career in mathematics and science – is glimpsed through my pieces. The process is at once meditative and draws on the mystery of creation, sacred geometry, repetition in nature, and the sacred art of the icons. My work opens a window onto a belief in harmonious universe and creates a space for contemplation in a world that is discordant and conflicted. For me art is a spiritual journey to discover the mysteries of beauty within us and around us connecting us to the Divine.
Using methods handed down from Byzantine artists, 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 organic glue mixed with chalk then 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 me too. The hidden treasures and depths glimpsed in base elements are revealed by time as if through alchemy. Yet the images created remain simple.
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’. Her unique process of using traditional techniques using pigments and genuine gold, which she developed over many years, has caught the attention of art collectors, curators and art historians.
After completing a Science (Physics) degree in Cairo, Liddawi moved to the UK where she taught Maths for many years and gained a teaching qualification. Her passion for art and beauty took her on a path to pursue art professionally. She complete her MFA (Master in Fine Art) with distinction from Sussex University, UK (West Dean College).
Liddawi’s work has been shown in several group and solo exhibitions in London and internationally. She had exhibited in Venice, Portugal and at the XI Florence Biennale in Italy. Liddawi has been selected for the APS Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale in Malta as well as Artrooms, Melia House in London and exhibited in Rome at The Church Palace hotel.
She was awarded the prestigious ‘Lorenzo il Magnifico’ painting award at the XI Florence Biennale 17 and won 'ArtGemini Prize' in Painting and Sculpture. 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.
Be Still', Community Church, Forest Row, UK SOLO
Artrooms Fair, Church Palace Hotel, Rome
Artrooms Fair, Melia White House, London
The APS Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale, The Mediterranean: A Sea of Conflicting Spiritualities, Malta
Florence Biennale, International Biennale of Contemporary Art, Florence, Italy
'Revelation', Foyer Gallery, Asia House, London SOLO
'Thinking Baroque', Braga, Portugal
'Critical Paths', Espacio Gallery, London
'Critical Paths', West Dean College, Chichester
'Malamegi Lab.7', Imagoars Gallery, Venice, Italy
'Contemplations', Gallery 57, Arundel, UK
'Material Matters' , Leyden Gallery, London, UK
'ArtGemini Prize', Asia House, London
'On-Site', West Dean College, Chichester, UK
Awards and Competitions
'Lorenzo il Magnifico' painting award at Florence Biennale
Shortlisted for Trustees Award, West Dean College, UK
Winner of ArtGemini Painting and Sculpture prize, UK
2017 MFA (Masters in Fine Art) Distinction, West Dean College, Chichester
2015 BA (Hons) Fine Art, Northbrook College, West Sussex
2013-2015 Open Programme, Princess School of Traditional Arts, London
2003 Hertfordshire University PGCE/ post 16
1993 Bachelor of Science, (Physics) American University in Cairo
Lecturer and teacher at West Dean College, Chichester
Runs her own workshops
‘Lorenzo il Magnifico’ Painting Award at Florence Biennale, Italy
International Painting Award
I’m privileged to have won ‘Lorenzo il Magnifico painting award’ at Florence Biennale in Italy.