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From the Cradle of the Middle East...
I am Merna Liddawi, an award-winning artist living and working on the South Coast in the UK. I was born in Amman, the capital of Jordan in the Middle East, to an Orthodox family.
Every week my family would take me to Church, and I’d sit for hours absorbing the beauty around me; the vibrant colours of the sacred images, listening to the chanting music, smelling the incense and having a feeling deep inner peace. This experience sparked in me feelings of mystery, transcendence and set me on a journey of discovery.
I wasn’t born into a great artistic family who is related to a Picasso or Cezanne. My father was a medical doctor and my mother a stay at home mum. My dad surely had a passion for art. He was terrific at Arabic calligraphy, technical drawing, oil painting and loved anything creative.
An Unexpected Surprise...
After my father's sudden death caused by heart attack, I left home and travelled to Egypt to University. I was good at science and art wasn't an option at that time. So I finished my studies and gained a Science degree specialising in Physics. During this time, I was on a spiritual journey prompted by my father's death, searching for meaning and purpose of life.
One day, sitting in my room, feeling lonely and isolated as trying to deal with the pain of loss. I picked up a pencil, got out a sheet of paper and had my first attempt to copy a small portrait picture I had in my purse. That day I surprised myself, and I discovered the magic of creativity; I can draw. I knew it came from outside my self. It was magic; it was a moment full of inner peace and joy.
Discovery that changed my path...
I spent many years teaching Math, IT, Arabic in UK colleges and achieved several qualifications. But my desire to paint and draw was growing until one day I couldn't ignore it anymore. I enrolled in a college in my late 30's and spent the next seven years studying art, discovering who I am as an artists and honing my painting skills. The result was getting BA in Fine Art, followed MFA (Masters in Fine Art) in painting and most importantly finding my calling.
My years of art making were life-changing and healing; I realized my calling to add peace, beauty and harmony to this world through my paintings and creativity.
While researching sacred art, I found out how the process of painting could be a prayer, a time of stillness; a moment to pause, reconnect with the Divine; it’s what I call, a ‘Selah’ moment.
When I’m not in my studio, you can find me walking my dog on the beach, in London looking at art, drinking cappuccino in a café, reading a good inspiring book, or having a few days of a quiet retreat.
My art is a journey of spiritual growth and my paintings are the culmination of that journey that started at birth.
My paintings are a reminder to enjoy beauty within yourself and around you;
to experience peace, and serenity in a world full of noise; to live and enjoy every moment NOW.
Curious to know more?
Here are more facts about me:
I can write mirror image; back to front in both Arabic and English; it says something about my brains.
I live in a house full of testosterone; 3 boys, my husband and a male dog.
I love reading; I have a library full of books on theology, art, spirituality and self-development.
I meditate and pray regularly. It's what keeps my creativity flowing and my spirit open.
I paint using 23.5 ct gold leaf and early Renaissance techniques.
Artrooms Fair, Church Palace Hotel, Rome
The APS Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale, The Mediterranean: A Sea of Conflicting Spiritualities, Malta
Florence Biennale, International Biennale of Contemporary Art, Florence, Italy
"Thinking Baroque", Braga, Portugal
'ArtGemini Prize, Asia House, London
'Malamegi Lab.7', Imagoars Gallery, Venice, Italy
Awards and Competitions
2017 'Lorenzo il Magnifico' painting award at Florence Biennale
2017 Shortlisted for Trustees Award, West Dean College, UK
2016 Winner of ArtGemini Painting and Sculpture prize, UK
Marylebone Journal; Discover More publication; Malta Independent Newspaper; Eastern Art Report
MFA (Masters in Fine Art) Distinction, West Dean College, Chichester, UK
BA (Hons) Fine Art, Northbrook College, West Sussex, UK