We met with Lewis N. L. Waugh, an Artist from the UK. Lewis is an alumni of the University of Edinburgh. In an interview with Lewis, we asked him the following questions:

Tell us about yourself

Edinburgh College of Art 1967 – 71 (Dip AD -Drawing & Painting). PGTC Edinburgh Uni. 1971-72. Mountain Leadership Cert. 1979. Dip. Counselling. SIHR 1991. Masters Degree SEN. Edinburgh Uni. 2002 Varied work experience mainly focussed on Art, Education and mountaineering. Teacher of Art in mainstream education, 1975-79. Member of staff and Assistant Director, Peper Harow Therapeutic Community 1979 -87. Scottish Organiser of Open College of the Arts, 1988 – 95. Support for Learning mainstream education 1995 – 2009. Practising exhibiting artist 2009 – present

How long have you been studying Arabic? What is your current level?

My work, which is abstract, owes a great deal to the influence of Islamic art.

What made you decide to study the Arabic language and culture?  What & who inspired you?  What were your motivations?

A visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul in my 3rd year of studies at art college began a life-long and steadily growing influence on my work

Have you had any ups and downs while learning Arabic?

Initial attempts at studying Arabic (early 70s) were thwarted by lack of opportunities and time.

What careers are you planning to pursue (or have embarked on) using your Arabic language skills?

I have just completed a one-man exhibition in Glasgow, ‘East-West:West-East’ in which I used the work of a Palestinian and a Gaelic poet and worked with an Arabic calligrapher

What does it take to become an excellent student of Arabic? What recommendations would you give to anyone interested in learning Arabic?

From the scant experience I have had in learning and using phrases, a very good ear is required plus an ability to move beyond the normal noise/sound making use of tongue, mouth and especially throat. You also need time and consistent practice. Since my first attempts there are now a proliferation of Arabic radio stations that can be tuned into. Travel and total immersion is ultimately the most productive method.

What’s your favourite Arabic word?

Ah-lan wa sah-lan. The sheer musicality

What is your least favourite Arabic word? Why?

Yella-tawada. Its what the guide says as he kicks you awake and prompts you forward up the next slope

Who’s your most inspiring Arab personality?

Iyad Hayatleh. The Palestinian poet who I worked with. The degree of loss he has experienced in his life and the sheer humanity with which he has responded to that loss.

What is your favourite place in the Arab World?

Is Morocco part of the Arab world? The industriousness and good humour of everyone I met. If not part of the Arab world, then Istanbul. One of the most ancient and vibrant cities of the world – surely

What is your favourite Arabic quote?

I like chapter 112 of the Quran. Simple practical device that should be a part of every human being’s advice/education

What is your favourite book? Why?

Rug of a Thousand Colours by Iyad Hayatleh. It was the basis of much of my work over the last two years


If you have studied Arabic before (no matter how little), we would love to hear from you. To share your story, please  go to SUBMIT .To find out more about the MyJourneytoArabic initiative, go to ABOUT


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