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 art 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 and solo exhibitions in London and internationally. She had exhibited 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 as well as Artrooms fair in 2018, Melia House, London and Artrooms 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 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 sacred art of the icons. Her 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 Liddawi 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 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.
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
Publications and Articles
2017 Marylebone Journal
2017 Discover More
2016 Eastern Art Report
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.
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