Wissa Wassef, Ramses


Egyptian artist and architect Ramses Wissa Wassef was born to a prominent Coptic family. His father was a lawyer and a member of the nationalist Wafd party. Wassef studied architecture at the Ecole Des Beaux- Arts in Paris. His graduation project was titled "A Potter's House in Old Cairo”. It received first prize, and made evident his interest in Egyptian crafts. He returned to Cairo in 1938, and taught at the College of Fine Arts. He was head of the department until he retired in 1969 to dedicate more time to his art center in Harraniya.

Between 1940 and 1950 he designed private homes, schools and churches in Egypt. In his work he strived to maintain traditional building techniques and local architectural character.

In 1951 he bought a piece of land in Harraniya to start an art education center. It began as an experiment with children in tapestry weaving, meant to prove that children were inherently creative. The art center has workshops, showrooms, a pottery and sculpture museum, houses and farm buildings, and it is built entirely of mud brick.

Today, tapestries from his workshops are highly prized and decorate many public building around the world. The themes of the richly woven fabrics are village scenes, plants, and animals.