Camille Fox

Camille Fox

I was born in Alexandria, Egypt. During the Suez Crisis at the age of six I left with my family for Israel.

Six years later we migrated to Australia. Life in Sydney was good. After finishing high school I studied painting and illustrating at the National Art School and went on to work in advertising for many years as well as cartooning for the Australian Jewish News.

Marriage – children – Egypt was buried in the deepest recesses of my mind. We spoke French at home and it seemed natural to say I was of French origin – if you say something often enough it becomes the truth.

In 2000 – encouraged by my English husband – we crossed the Sinai Desert by coach from Jerusalem into my country of birth.

The sights, the smells, the sounds of my childhood all came back to me.

I found our house in Rue Bolbitine with my grandfather’s initials forged in the wrought iron gate. Mohammad the bawab was still there forty five years later. As we stood in the street looking at each other, choked with emotion, trying to communicate with my smattering of Arabic, he caressed the gate and said “Khalena kollo zay ma kan”- we left everything as it was.

On our return to Sydney – for the first time I began asking my parents questions about our lives in Egypt – I poured over family photographs, letters, books – I went to talks, joined groups – and I began to draw and paint Egypt.

Eight years on I am still painting the Egypt of yesteryear – the glorious days of my grandparents’ era – the vibrant community that no longer exists.

I’ve since held several exhibitions in Sydney and Melbourne with titles ‘Nostalgic Glimpses of a Bygone Era’ and ‘Those Romantic Levantines’. I am currently painting for my next show, ‘A Memoir in Colour’, which will be held in Sydney in November, and in Melbourne next year at the Jewish Museum of Australia.