Your impact: Dreams of Egyptian Art

Clover Godsal, 2016

“I was the lucky recipient of the Edis Travel Grant fund, which I used to attend the College of Fine Art in Cairo for a year abroad as part of my Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies degree. This opportunity combines my two passions: Arabic and Art. The art school is unique; it is the oldest modern, figurative art school in the Middle East and the birthplace of Modern Egyptian art. Every Egyptian artist you can think of either taught or studied there. In addition, the most famous and influential visual Egyptian artists teach part-time here.

“I am the first European to have ever studied there, and culturally and artistically it could not be more different to Cambridge, or the world that I have grown up in, or art education as I know it. My year group consists of two hundred and fifty Egyptians and me. All the teaching is done in Arabic. My weekly timetable includes drawing, drawing with colour, sculpture, graphic drawing, the principles of design, history of culture, anatomy, Spanish and human rights.

“The college is located on an island called Zamalek in the middle of the Nile. Over 3,000 students charge in and out of the former Ottoman palace where the college is now located. I am affectionately called the ‘agnabia’ which is Egyptian Arabic for foreign female and I enjoy a degree of celebrity and attention, which is exciting and flattering and a far-cry from my anonymity at school. It has been an extraordinary and life-changing experience, a dream come true.

“Since returning to St Catharine’s, I set up the Life Drawing Society, generously funded by His Honour Alan Pardoe QC (1961).”