January 15 2013
My mother is Egyptian and since the millennium, I’ve been coming to Cairo on my way to Siwa once or twice a year. Siwa is an oasis located in the Egyptian Sahara some 50km from the Libyan border. It is a place that nourishes me with the power of energy and creation; it’s where I escape to – and it’s home.
What brings me to Cairo this time is to help my dear friend Mounir Neamatalla, founder of Siwa’s eco-lodge Adrère Amellal, realise yet another dream: the revival of the Egyptian Museum on Tahrir Square; the museum of all museums.
Cairo is magical. I wake up with a full view of the Nile; then have mint tea, date jam and toast for breakfast. Shortly afterwards, Vasco Dobrev, an Egyptologist who has been exploring the Saqqara site for the past 25 years, invites me for a guided tour. Saqqara is the place to get a very first lesson in pyramid culture: pyramids are both the pharaoh’s stairway to heaven and pathway back to earth through the rays of the sun – testimony of an everlasting life.
The day is dedicated to the Egyptian museum. I am consulting on the scenography of the project’s initiation zone, in a spectacular atrium designed by the French architect Dorion in 1902. My biggest challenge is to maintain the chaotic equilibrium that is so characteristic of the museum, and to add life to each and every one of the artefacts that reside in these rooms. I need to develop an appropriate colour and lighting scheme that enhances the value of the artefacts and architecture.
Although this is the end of my trip, I know this is just the beginning of a long journey…