Artist Gamil Shafiq offers his own personal take on the event
No sooner do I set foot in Aswan than I reconnect with my sense of belonging to Egypt; the symposium's magnificent artworks are enough to ensure that we are still in touch with the ancient civilisation of the Nile Valley. Thanks to Culture Minister Farouk Hosni's attention this event, the brainchild of Adam Henein or the Hawk's Eye, as I prefer to call him, has become a kind of academy from which sculptors from across the country graduate.
This year I was attracted to the workshop participants, among whom Mohamed Abul- Magd and Mahmoud El-Douehi particularly impressed me. Both holders of vocational diplomas, they would likely not have been spotted if not for the Eye. I remember first meeting Abul-Magd at last year's Youth Salon: he was recounting how his wife helped him out, selling her jewellery to cover the expense of creating the impressive piece he had created for the occasion and transporting it from his hometown in Al-Maadeya, Rashid to Cairo. Al-Shumoukh (Sublimity), the piece he contributed to the symposium, is quite simply beyond words -- neither abstract nor figurative. Suffice it to say that it engaged both fellow sculptors and visitors. For his part El-Douehi, from Upper Egypt, is deeply rooted in the granite culture: his grandfather is Am Ali El-Douehi, the elderly headman who worked in dismantling and transporting the Abu Simbel Temple during the UNESCO salvage operation on the eve of the building of the High Dam. His relationship with stone started at the tender age of nine when, accompanying his father, he would play with bits of it. In 1996, however, he joined the symposium's first round as Henein's own professional assistant, completing, among other pieces, a 19-metre boat now located in Hawk Eye's home in Haraneya, Giza. In 2003 he carved his own metre-tall granite piece for the Youth Salon -- now on show at the Modern Art Museum. This year he produced one of his largest pieces today, a 180cm long human figure.