Related Events

Exhibition: Freud and Egypt: Between Oedipus and the Sphinx

7th August 2019 – 27th October 2019
Freud Museum London
freud egypt

This new exhibition explores Freud’s enduring fascination with Egypt evident both in his writings and in his collection of antiquities. Egyptian artefacts form the largest part of Freud’s collection and lie behind his ‘archaeological metaphor’ – one of his most productive methods for exploring the psyche and developing the practice of psychoanalysis.

Freud thought about the archaeology of the mind while advances in professional archaeology and Egyptology were developing. This fascinating new exhibition will bring Freud into dialogue with his contemporary Flinders Petrie, the first UK Professor of Egyptology, comparing their thoughts on archaeology and their respective collections of artefacts.

Exploring the themes of  Egyptomania, sexuality, death and more, objects from Freud and Petrie’s own personal collections will be displayed side by side.

A painting of Oedipus’ encounter with the Sphinx famously hung beside Freud’s couch. Nobody doubts the significance of Oedipus to the development of Freud’s thought but the presence of the Sphinx reminds us of his less celebrated interest in Egyptian culture.

Egypt’s role in Freud’s writing

Egypt played a prominent role in Freud’s writings. In his psychobiography of Leonardo da Vinci, Freud uses the Egyptian goddess Mut as the key to the artist’s sexual and creative identity. Egypt again takes centre stage in Freud’s final work Moses and Monotheism where he makes the scandalous claim that Moses was not a Jew but an Egyptian.

This summer exhibition will explore all these themes and more, with the opportunity to see some never-before displayed Egyptian treasures from Freud’s collection up close. The exhibition is included with admission.

In partnership with the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at UCL, which is home to Flinders Petrie’s collection of ancient artefacts from the Nile delta.

For more information, please visit:

Exhibition: John Frederick Lewis: Facing Fame

9th July – 3rd November 2019

Watts Gallery (Compton, Surrey)
John Frederick Lewis, In the Bezestein, El Khan Khalil, Cairo, c. 1860. Watercolour, wash, graphite under drawing. Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery

An exhibition dedicated to exploring the life and art of the Victorian Orientalist artist John Frederick Lewis (1804-1876).

Between 1827 and 1840 Lewis made numerous trips to Europe, travelling through Spain and Italy. From 1840, he travelled to Constantinople and on to Cairo in 1841 where he remained, detached from the London art scene, for a decade. Of all of the British artists to make the Eastern journey in the nineteenth century, Lewis is unique in staying for such a prolonged period. He settled in one of the Coptic quarters of Cairo where he lived in a traditional upper-class house, which would provide the backdrop for many compositions. During this period, Lewis created an numerous of detailed and vivid sketches that convey his fascination for the architecture, light and exoticism of the region. When Lewis returned to London in 1851 he brought with him a substantial body of work that would provide a wealth of inspiration for the rest of his artistic career.

This exhibition will be underpinned by an exploration of Lewis’s evolving and experimental self-fashioning. While living in Cairo, he was famously described as a ‘languid Lotus-eater’ leading a ‘dreamy, hazy, lazy, tobaccofied life’ by his close friend William Makepeace Thackeray. Despite being absent from the London art world for a decade, on his return he was received with critical acclaim assimilating straight into the heart of the establishment. This public role did not necessarily sit easily on his shoulders. Elected President of the Society of Painters in Water Colours in November 1855, he resigned little more than two years later. Ruskin later commented on Lewis’s apparent detachment: ‘There was something un-English about him, which separated him from the good-humoured groups of established fame whose members abetted and jested with each other… He never dined with us, as our other painter friends did’.

Exhibiting an array of Lewis’s work from across his career, this exhibition will explore the paradoxical tensions that exist between Lewis’s varying personas, from young dandy to ‘languid Lotus-eater’, leader of the establishment to eccentric recluse.

 Find out more:

Gain a further insight into the exhibition in this review on the Art Exhibitions Blog, by Eddie Buckle and Lydia Lancaster.

Exhibition: Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World influenced Western Art

10th October 2019 – 26th January 2020

British Museum
inspired by the east

Charting the fascinating history of cultural and artistic interactions between East and West, this exhibition explores the impact the Islamic world has had on Western art for centuries.

Artistic exchange between East and West has a long and intertwined history, and the exhibition picks these stories up from the 15th century, following cultural interactions that can still be felt today. Objects from Europe, North America, the Middle East and North Africa highlight a centuries-old tradition of influence and exchange from East to West. The diverse selection of objects includes ceramics, photography, glass, jewellery and clothing, as well as contemporary art, showcasing how artistic exchange influenced a variety of visual and decorative arts. The exhibition concludes with a 21st-century perspective, through the eyes of four female artists from the Middle East and North Africa who continue to question and subvert the idea of Orientalism in their work and explore the subject of Muslim female identity.

The show takes a deeper look at the art movement of ‘Orientalism’ – specifically the way in which North Africa and the Middle East were represented as lands of beauty and intrigue, especially in European and North American art. Often blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, Orientalist art reached its heyday in the mid-1800s, as Europeans and North Americans were looking overseas to fundamentally learn more about other cultures, but its popularity had faded by the 1940s with the decline of the British Empire.

Conceived and developed in collaboration with the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Inspired by the East: how the Islamic world influenced Western art includes generous loans from their extensive collection of Islamic and Orientalist art. The exhibition and collaboration highlight centuries of cultural exchange between East and West and its continuing importance today. It will go on display at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, from 20 June to 20 October 2020. Find out more about the collaboration and the exhibition in Malaysia here.

 Find out more: 

Conference: From Archives to Arch-Lives

13-16th October 2019
The American University in Cairo
(Cairo, Egypt)

On the occasion of celebrating a 100 years of the American University in Cairo, Egypt.

The conference is titled From Archives to Arch-Lives, and is one of many events occurring during the Centennial celebrations. The theme is inclusive of many points for discussion during the conference, including areas such as oral histories, special collections, digitisation, and much more.

Archives are no longer the exclusive domain for historians. More than ever, archives and special collections increasingly wield power over the shape and direction of historical scholarship, collective memory, and national identity. The notions of archives, history, memory, identity and power are interlinked, with archives taking a prominent and controlling role that directs how we remember and how we, and others, see ourselves.

On the occasion of The American University in Cairo’s 100th anniversary, the Academy of Liberal Arts, Department of Rhetoric and Composition and the Rare Books and Special Collections Library (RBSCL) solicits paper proposals from librarians, archivists, curators, faculty, collectors, writers, independent scholars, and graduate students for its conference – From Archives to Arch-Lives. We also encourage proposals for slideshows, video presentations, panels, and roundtables organized around common themes. Proposals on digital humanities and other forms of digital scholarship and data-driven projects are also welcome.

Venue: Moataz al-Alfi Hall, New Campus

Keynote Speaker: 

Dr. Anne Gilliland
Founding President, Archival Education Research Institute
Associate Dean for Information Studies, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.

Doris Jones
The Academy of Liberal Arts (ALA)
Department of Rhetoric and Composition
The American University in Cairo

Heba Sheta
Office of the Associate Provost for Research, Innovation and Creativity
The American University in Cairo

Abdel Aziz Galal
Instruction/Reference Librarian
Zayed University

Mark Muehlhaeusler
Center of Excellence for the Middle East and Arab Cultures, AUC Libraries
The American University in Cairo

For more information about the conference, visit the conference’s website

If you have any questions about the conference, email

For registration, participants need to visit:

Play: A Museum in Baghdad (by Hannah Khalil)

1st October – 25th January
Royal Shakespeare Company

The play is set between 1926 and 2006 and explores the creation by Gertrude Bell of the Museum of Iraq in Baghdad and subsequent attempts to rebuild and reopen it following the destruction and looting of wartime. Decades apart, two women share the same goals: to create a fresh sense of unity and nationhood, to make the world anew through the museum and its treasures. The play questions who is the museum for? Whose culture are we preserving? And why does it matter when people are dying? 

Fantastic trailer available here:

ASTENE members have very kindly been offered a limited offer for a reduced tickert-price of £15 for some early performances (11, 15, 16, 17 and 18 October). These can be booked here:

For more information, please see:

PEF Lecture: The Islamic Baydha Project: The Archaeology of Settlement in Post-urban Petra

Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) Lecture
by Micaela Sinibaldi (Cardiff University)
7th November (4 pm)
The BP Lecture Theatre, Clore Education Centre, The British Museum

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The Islamic Baydha Project, directed by Micaela Sinibaldi, funded by the PEF, and affiliated with the Council for British Research in the Levant, started in 2014 and has concluded its fifth season in 2018.

The project aims at conducting excavations, surveys, conservation, archaeological training and community engagement at the site of Baydha. Since the site holds the most significant accessible archaeological evidence of Islamic-period material culture in the Petra region, the Islamic Baydha Project is also part of a broader study, the Late Petra Project, which investigates the later periods of the Petra region. This period saw the existence of numerous settlements, including several villages in the Baydha region itself. Although the Petra valley was never completely abandoned, starting from the late Byzantine period the main focus of settlement gradually shifted out of it, and Baydha became one of the main areas of population. Recent excavations of the Islamic Baydha Project have focused on the village habitations and on the study of two mosques, the only two fully identified and studied so far in the entire region.
The project aims at conducting excavations, surveys, conservation, archaeological training and community

The Islamic Baydha Project, directed by Micaela Sinibaldi, funded by the PEF, and affiliated with the Council for British Research in the Levant, started in 2014 and has concluded its fifth season in 2018.

About the lecturer:

Micaela Sinibaldi is an archaeologist specialising in the Medieval and Islamic periods and has been conducting fieldwork in Jordan since 1994. Currently, she is an Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University, U.K., the Glassman Holland Research Fellow at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem (2018/2019) and the director of the Islamic Baydha Project. Her recent publications include Sinibaldi, M., K. Lewis, B. Major and J. Thompson (eds.) (2016), Crusader Landscapes in the Medieval Levant. The Archaeology and History of the Latin East. University of Wales Press; the publication of the volume from her PhD thesis, Settlement in Crusader Transjordan, (1100-1189): a Historical and Archaeological Study, is currently in progress.

Over the past years, her work has focused on the archaeology of Petra during the Islamic period; to conduct this study, she has been working in collaboration with numerous projects in Petra led by the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and international teams.

This lecture is being held in memory of our friend and colleague, Andrea Zerbini, who passed away in July this year, aged 36.

For more information, please see:

For more information on the project itself, please see:



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