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Volume 35, Number 4July/August 1984

In This Issue

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Photographed by Pamela Roberson

In 1972, Pamela Roberson, inspired by T. E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom, set out to record her OWN personal impressions of the desert. Ten years and many thousands of miles of solitary travel later, the result - a photographic exhibition called "Dunescapes" - is currently on tour in the United States.

Roberson's self-confessed love affair -with the desert began while she was living in the Arab East. On trips out of Lebanon, where she spent four years studying life in a Druze village, she learned of the "incredible hold the desert has on people." Brought up on the green East Coast of America, Roberson's curiosity was aroused. "I -went to the library and took out Seven Pillars of Wisdom," she says, "... and my love affair with the desert began. Any landscape -which could inspire so many laudatory passages -written with such fervor for the land, was something

During the next nine years, Roberson hiked the deserts of the Middle East - Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia - as well as deserts in the United States, Turkey and Morocco. "I was stuck in quicksand, caught in sand storms and ruined several outfits of camera equipment," says Roberson. "Sometimes I camped for days and days in temperatures soaring to 52.5 degrees Centigrade (126 degrees Fahrenheit) -waiting for the right moments of dawn and the afterglow of sunset - the magic."

Roberson does not work with filters. "I always work with natural light, unfettered and unadulterated. I wait - period. I work alone, hiking into the desert -with my 35 millimeter, tripod, polarizer and water. That's my equipment. There are no tricks or changes in the printing."

Roberson's "Dunescapes" exhibition -a selection of 27 of her best photographs -opened in December, 1981, at the Los Angeles Museum of Science and Industry, and further museum and fine art gallery exhibitions have since followed - the latest in Washington in June.

This article appeared on pages 22-33 of the July/August 1984 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.


Check the Public Affairs Digital Image Archive for July/August 1984 images.