Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. Everything has been figured out, except how to live. One always dies too soon or too late. And yet, life is there, finished. The line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life. There is only one day left, always starting over. It is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk. We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are, that is the fact. When you live alone you no longer know what it is to tell a story: the plausible disappears at the same time as the friends. You let events flow by too.Suddenly you see people appear who speak and then go away; you plunge into stories of which you can't make head or tail. You'd make a terrible witness. It is true that people who live in society have learned how to see themselves in mirrors as they appear to their friends. Luckily, I only have a few...

Dr Shaw is a lecturer in Further Education at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. She also offers philosophy courses at the School of Continuing Education, Lifelong learning, at the University of Liverpool. In 2015, she has completed her Doctorate in philosophy with a focus on existentialism, the equilibrium doctrine and narrative. She has worked as a teacher of English and Comparative literature and Philosophy at The American University in Cairo, Egypt where she also obtained her BA (Hons). Dr Shaw has an MA in Philosophy and Literature from the University of East Anglia where she also taught on a number of humanities subjects. Whilst working in North Wales in Further education, she gained a PGCE aimed at teaching in FE and HE sectors. Dr Shaw moved to Liverpool in 2010 where she now resides.

Interests: Existentialism, Narrative, Comparative Literature, Feminist Thought, Public Speaking, Arab Existentialism, Philosophy of Education, Art, Music, Film and Theatre, Greek Mythology, Existential counsellor and psychotherapist.


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Brussels 8th April, 2011

Namur, Fille de Sambre
My decision to visit Brussels was finally made after a brief chat with Mr Lotfi Abou Sariya, an Egyptian artists living in Belgium since 1971. Sariya invited me to visit Brussels to meet him, his family and see some of his artworks. Upon arrival to Brussels international airport, I was greeted by Sariya and his wife, Iris. I instantly felt at home in their lovely house in the area of Cranium, close to the airport. I was surprised on the way from the airport to see the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) buildings. It is true the saying that every man's home is his palace. Sariya's house is decorated in a style that conveys tradition, authenticity and warmth. His paintings that were everywhere quickly captured my eyes and took me back home to Egypt. He smiles and admits to me "I paint Egypt". The use of warm colours of the Mediterranean along with mixing the Pharonic luxurious colours (shades of blue and gold) are reflected in Sariya's paintings.

Mr Sariya graduated in 1964 after completing his undergraduate studies in the faculty of Fine Arts with a specialisation in painting. He studied afterwards for an educational diploma over two years and studied a further four years for a degree from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels where he graduated with high honours.

Since then, he has been developing as an artist participating in various exhibitions and attending modules at the Academy RHOK in Belgium specialising in engraving Zinc, Cooper and Lithography. His passion for art is apparent in his paintings that show the Egyptian traidtion and culture and Sariya's experience as an Egyptian living in a Western world. Some of the iconic institutions he exhibited in are Egyptian Opera House, Hall of Paris and Netherland Bank, Bruges City in Belgium, and a collective exhibition Cote d'Azur in France and more recently in the Chateau Du Lac in Belgium. 

According to Sariya, the colours that he uses are mainly inspired by the colours of the sun and the dessert. He uses oil, gouache and oily pastel. Some paintings are a result of chemical reactions of elements like copper, silver and many others. From talking to Sariya, I could not help but have in my mind the scene from Heroes- the American series- where the artist had powers to see through the future and paint it whilst absorbed in some sort of high power transcendental experience- almost meditating. Sariya says that from chemical reactions, paintings "come to him". A phrase that, translated from Arabic, has a rather religious connotation to it as if he was spoken to or given inspiration by some sort of sublime divine power.

In Plato's Republic, the  Myth of the Cave describes the state of people in the cave chained together deceived by the images on the wall that are made by those behind a wall. One person who managed to free himself and go out of the cave to seek the sun have been rejected by others in the cave for attempting to open their eyes that there is a world outside of the cave. Some may see the person who left the cave as an artist whilst others believe it is the philosopher. In both cases, the person is the one who is capable of freeing himself from all chains and seek truth. Another interpretation is claiming that those behind the wall producing those representations- fake realities- are artists who make images/copies of what is real, hence can mislead and misguide people from the truth. Whatever ones' interpretation of the myth of the cave, it does not take away from the tale's significance or the fact that it is a fantastic tale that asserts human beings inability to accept their condition and seek the truth.

Finally, my visit has been very informative, intellectual, interesting and certainly relaxing. The artworks viewed combine Egyptian Pharonic influences, Coptic and Islamic culture and Western bright colours and style. This combination certainly attracts many to Sariya's exhibitions and I am pleased to say that he is one of many Egyptians abroad who are actively supporting the Egyptian Revolution of the 25th Jan, 2011 this is in the form of donating all the money raised from selling his artworks in his coming exhibition to go to Egypt to boost the country's economy, help those who lost their loved ones, improve the current situation financially and support the needy.

Please see also Lotfi Abou Sariya's Website:

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