Sketching makes me slow down, observe and really be in that moment, in that place. The first time I traveled to Egypt I brought a sketchpad and pastels instead of a camera, taking it all in slowly and intently.
Riding in a taxi, I capture the world going by, pyramidian piles of oranges, men on donkeys, chartreuse fields of sugar cane, reflections in the canals. I take notes on everything from the foreign road signs to what we had for dinner – all evidence of travel.
On a lunch break from work at the temple, I draw Mohamed Abel Gassem. Proud, dignified and almost blind, he tells stories of what life was like before the High Dam, of the many kinds of wheat that grew in the fertile soil and how they sat around Sheik Ali’s garden listening to the sounds of 78rpm Om Khoulsom records on the West Bank’s first Victrola.
Drawing in the market with a crowd around me asking what I am doing, I hand out sheets of paper and pencils and let them draw. At other times, I am alone in silence with only the sounds of the wind and the desert.