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Arts & Culture

Sea Song: Hugh Snowden Exhibition Reflects on the Coastal Experience in Egypt

Sea Song: Hugh Snowden Exhibition Reflects on the Coastal Experience in Egypt
written by
Cairo 360

Two years ago, British artist Hugh Sowden started a series of abstract paintings inside his Alexandrian studio. His solo exhibition Sea Song', which opened on Wednesday 24 November at Osana Family Wellness, was born of that coastal existence: Living on the edge of the Mediterranean — “a power spot, a centre of civilizations across time and space” — he reflects on the historical and contemporary layers of life, death and resurrection.

Sowden often composes verse to accompany his paintings, photographs and three-dimensional installations. One excerpt from ‘Sea Song’ reads:  

The ocean absorbs our past
And shapes our future
Without it there is no life
The sea is a myriad of interpretation  
And powerful sensory perception                                                                                                                                                                                                              
Surface light reflecting the celestial universe    
Its depth evoking dark and mysterious emotion        
Never changing, never the same                                                                                          

For almost a half-century, Sowden (and his art) have traversed the globe, from Europe to the Middle East and Africa to the West Indies. By way of illustration, he volunteered with Mother Theresa in Calcutta, worked as a teacher in Tehran for the Shah and spent several years in Luxor delving into Pharaonic culture and other creative forces inspired by nature and spiritual beliefs.

Deeply connected to Egypt throughout his career, Sowden was Head of Visual and Performing Arts at the British International School Cairo (1981-1998) and worked on the interior design of All Saints Cathedral in Zamalek known as The Millennium Frescoes (1984-2000). After training as a concept-design architect, he would go on to develop three-dimensional paintings such as Paradise Dahshour and Malkata Palace (see World of Interior magazine).

“I’ve lived in Egypt for some 35 years,” Sowden reminisces. “In that time, I’ve created numerous studios: on the Nile in Embaba, in a Bedouin encampment near Nuweiba, by the Dahshour Pyramids, on the west bank of Luxor in Malkata Palace, and most recently on the outskirts of Alexandria in Agami…I feel like I’ve become part of Egyptian culture and I know that Egyptian culture is an important part of me.”

Sowden’s work has been exhibited in various galleries and establishments around the world and can be found in a number of private and public collections.

‘Sea Song’ runs from 24 November to 31 December at Osana Family Wellness. Public Q&A sessions with the artist will be held on 26 November from 1PM to 2PM and on 5th December from 11AM to 12PM. For more information, call Osana at 01017733770 or email