Telephone: mobile 07792 112641 or 01323 649053 evenings
EASTBOURNE BN21 3TE
(in reverse order)
MPhil (career PHASE 3) School of Oriental & African Studies
Currently working towards commuting the MPhil to PhD that aims to solve a puzzle in ancient near eastern art history.
External degree in Archaeology (career PHASE 2) Birkbeck College/Institute of Archaeology
PGCE (specialising in teaching the History
of Art) (career PHASE 1)
B.A (Hons) History of Art (specialising in the Modern Period) (career PHASE 1) Courtauld Institute
Widely travelled (see under Travel) and from an internationally-minded background due
to childhood and marriage connections, Asia is confident in her dealings with men
and women of varied backgrounds, and has met people from most nations.
Activities as author and teacher have gained valuable contacts in universities,
business, publishing and museum worlds and, in her most recent day job, in
Having now published two books she makes full use of the expertise gained from all her degrees, finding relevance for her present PhD research in the fascination modern society has for the knowledge and history of the ancient world, most especially for the roots of the present-day monotheistic traditions that derive from the ancient near east and its distinctive mind-sets. A conventional academic position would involve both research and day-to-day administration: as a free-lancer she prefers to split these two activities and be involved in an ordinary office day-job to keep a practical balance. She believes in sharing and implementing knowledge to understand current problems rather than staying in an ivory tower (motto: Learn, and Teach).
Through family connections going back
generations and her own wide-ranging travels in the
She has always been in the habit of using her research as an instrument to view the connections between ancient and modern worlds to help find solutions to present-day concerns, always hoping that the day job will ultimately merge with the art and archaeology research.
ongoing at School of Oriental and African Studies,
As part of an initial plan to move from
school teaching to a university lectureship, I started work on a PhD subject
with a colleague of my husband’s (Prof. A D H Bivar) in 1985. I got as far as
the MPhil. stage and then he
retired. It was then difficult to find someone to oversee my work who combined
the disciplines of art history and
archaeology, so I simply continued to work on my own, wrapping it round the day
job as a long-term way of life while I dealt with divorce, change of home and
change of job. I was quite far into the initial research before I realised I
had been handed a research topic of capital importance – an art history
detective story of astounding interest. I began to take it more seriously and
was determined I would bring it to term, come what may, even sacrificing my
marriage for it. With hindsight, it was appropriate for me to change career
track to extend my orbit to the
Professor G G Thomson, Professor at
Herbert Partridge, in WWI entered
Father, Hugh Thomson CBE,
was in the Overseas Civil Service, and a District Commissioner in Northern
Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr,
Ex-Husband, Prof. Muhammad Abdel-Wahhab
Abdel-Haleem, sent to do a PhD at Cambridge, was cited ‘the cleverest student
of his year in Egypt’, and subsequently employed at SOAS as Lecturer (when I
met him), then Professor, of Arabic/Qur'anic Studies, specialising in Arabic
Literature. Through him and his extended family I gained vast inside knowledge
of the Middle East, though we never travelled there together - even to
Professor Keith Critchlow,
originally Lecturer at the Architectural Association is an expert in Islamic
art and architecture, and now Professor at the Prince of Wales’
PhD Co-Supervisor, Dr Dominique Collon, Assistant Keeper in the Department of the Ancient Near East at the British Museum (an expert on cylinder seals, recently retired). Not so long ago I went to her leaving party in the Assyrian Basement at the BM. At the start of the Iraq war she travelled to the Iraq Museum two or three weeks after it was looted, to liaise with the US Army on the inventory of what had gone, and to arrange training in London in the BM for Iraqi restorers.
in Archaeology, Institute of
[4-year external degree course] 1986-90
I: Palaeolithic Man and
his artefacts; II: Prehistoric
III: The civilisations of the Ancient Near East except Egypt; IV: Egyptology.
Price-Williams, who taught I and III, is an academic referee (He was in an
earlier year a tutor of Jonathan Tubb, now Curator of Levantine Antiquities at
Institute of Education,
This was a Post-Graduate teacher training course geared to devising ways of teaching Art History.
(Hons) History of Western Art, Courtauld
(Tutors included Anthony Blunt, Michael Kitson, Alan Bowness (later Director of the Tate Gallery), Anita Brookner, (later a novelist), Robert Ratcliffe (restoration expert)
Syllabus: The History of Western painting, sculpture and architecture
Special Topics: Rembrandt;
Specialist Final Year: Modern movements in painting/sculpture/architecture to now
As a modern period specialist I became aware of how modern artists borrowed from the archaeological discoveries of their time (e.g. Ur, Tutankhamun in 1922) – a thesis I never got to work on because after starting to travel to the Middle East from 1980 and first passing through a phase of interest in Islamic art, I became too involved in the ancient world to want to get back to the modern!
¸ Life Member, Association of Art Historians
¸ Reader at the British, Warburg Institute and SOAS Libraries
Miss P A Fisher, was niece of the then Archbishop of
All languages can be developed based on requirement
French A-level (A grade) ~ excellent reading and writing with reasonable spoken fluency;
German O level (grade 1) ~ proficient reading and writing with dictionary – halting spoken;
Arabic (no qualification) ~ basic reading and spoken, but can copy type(used to mark Arabic ‘O’ levels with my husband every summer, and help him assess the PhDs of his Arab students);
Russian O level (grade 1) ~ now rather rusty. Have lately acquired a smattering of
Greek, Hieroglyphics, Sumerian, Sanskrt (only specialist vocabulary relevant to my research)
Advanced User Microsoft WORD, and Expert User POWER POINT;
Basic knowledge of EXCEL and JASC PaintShop Pro; Proficient in OUTLOOK/Lotus Notes/use of Internet
(Falls into three phases, here given in reverse order. See referee Kim Wain for overall view)
PHASE THREE: following the ambition set out on front page Sep.2003 to date
In my day-job currently work for the Director-General of Corporate Strategy and Resources, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Rm 2.16, 26 Whitehall, London SW1A 2WH Tel: 0207 944 8942.
In early mornings and at weekends I pursue my research at the British Library, Warburg and School of Oriental and African Studies Libraries (University of London), with a view to writing a two-volume work, based on my PhD research, on the Canon of Art in the Ancient Near East 4000-33BC.
PHASE TWO: 14 years spent expanding art history repertoire 1987-2003
(see under Education)
During part-time University study for Archaeology and PhD degree paid my way via PA positions mostly in the private sector. though not of prime significance for my main career, these enabled me to develop computer skills, modern office techniques and general administrative know-how (my PhD supervisor had already advised me that computers were now the standard tool for academics).
q Many Temporary PA positions, from 1987
The longest of these were assignments with:
BM Media Group: Assistant to the CEO, 35 Piccadilly,
Amerindo Investment Advisers PA to Stockbroker Principals,
ALSTOM UK Ltd Head Office,
As a graduate with French, was employed as Office Manager and PA to the Commercial Director of this French global electrical engineering firm, at its height employing 120,000 people worldwide, (the company among other things makes trains such as the Eurostar and trainsets for London Underground, as well as generation equipment for power stations). Due to factory sell-offs this office was closed down in May 2003. (The President and Commercial Director are business referees)
I am grateful for the experience gained in office administration and liaison at senior level with factories in France and Britain in both French and English; with British and London Embassies, Government Ministers and Departments, International Banks and large UK contractors; also with ALSTOM Country Presidents and Sales Directors of all nationalities (in 60 countries); and, finally, organising visits in the UK to our factories/Head Office in London for distinguished clients (usually oriental or middle eastern).
q Current PA assignment: OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, Whitehall 2003-to date
Have worked for nearly three years now as Personal Assistant to one of the DPM's top civil servants (Peter Unwin, Director-General (Grade 2) Corporate Strategy and Resources Group - my Civil Service Referee). This is a pressurised and very demanding position with a lot of exposure to John Prescott's Office, his Ministers, and Permanent Secretaries and Director-Generals across Government. This requires
§ long hours,
§ working at high speed,
§ filtering a huge volume of incoming material, and putting together
§ a continuous series of policy submissions to DPM, Ministers or Permanent Secretaries,
§ to a never-ending succession of tight deadlines
§ requiring sophisticated and stream-lined team-work, all of which means
§ considerable sacrifice of one's personal social life.
PHASE ONE: Almost 20 Years as Modern Art History Specialist 1968-1987
my first two positions after gaining my Art History and PGCE degrees
q The Herbert Press Ltd 1979-87
From the time David Herbert set up his own company, was appointed (through personal contacts) as Assistant to the Managing Director, publisher of illustrated books on all aspects of the arts. He had started in Penguin on gaining his English degree from Cambridge, and then made his name as MD of highly illustrated book publisher Studio Vista, then Elek Books (he was well-known – there were obituaries for him in The Times and Daily Telegraph when he died). His widow was co-Director and is another referee.
Because it was a small company I did everything: dealt with authors, museums in the case of co-publications linked to exhibitions, organised picture rights and publicity, liaised with warehouse, distributors and printers, and did editing, picture research, correspondence and typing. I wrote copy for the catalogues. David Herbert thought my writing was good enough to suggest I go to the literary agent, Curtis Brown, but they were not willing to take on an unknown. However, I soon went into print without an agent – see under Key Achievements.
This was a gradual move out of teaching into publishing, which explains the overlap between 1979 and 1983
Teacher of A-Level Art History (Associated Examining Board – for which I was also an examiner)
The syllabus was as vast as the one for A Level History and was taught as a Humanities subject (it did not involve practical art). It was a two-year course for Lower and Upper Sixth-Form pupils.
Year 1: Overview of the history of Western painting, sculpture, architecture & design.
Year 2: Modern movements in art up to the present day
I frequently held classes in the Tate
and National Galleries, at the
My classes were popular: an average of 30 in the LVIth and 30 in the UVIth each year, with a 99% success rate and many coming out with the top grade to move on to study the subject at university and thereafter to follow careers in the media, galleries or museums. I have to say I am a born teacher. The headmistress of my time there is a referee.
At the end of this
period, having visited my parents in
CURRENT CAREER ADVISER (for an overall view of my capabilities)
PHASE 3: CIVIL SERVICE, OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
Peter Unwin, Director General Corporate
Strategy & Resources Group, 26
PHASE 3/2: ACADEMIC
Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr,
Referees from my time at the Courtauld Institute can if really necessary be resurrected, such as Alan Bowness (ex-Tate Gallery Director), or Anita Brookner, but others (Anthony Blunt, Michael Kitson) are now deceased.
PHASE 2: BUSINESS
¸ Paul Barron CBE, President, ALSTOM Ltd. Please contact at home address: St Hilda’s Lodge, 60 Steep Hill, LINCOLN LN2 1LR e-mail:
Dr Clive Palmer, Commercial Director, ALSTOM Ltd (former DTI Director). Please contact at home address: 482 Bideford Green, Linslade, Leighton Buzzard, BEDS LU7 7TZ e-mail:
PHASE I: POSTS WITH ART HISTORY CONTENT
Mrs David Herbert [Brenda Herbert],
(David Herbert himself would have been a referee, but he died of cancer in 1996)
Mrs Carol Handley (a Classics
dealt with VIPs from all over the world. In the name of gaining exports, I took a Chinese delegation of Engineers
round Westminster Abbey and, more recently, a party of officials from the
Chinese Ministry of Transport (including the Minister for Transport himself),
on a tour of London (with translator/guide)– this included a visit to Canary
Wharf London Underground and the Transport Museum. See under ALSTOM
instrumental in setting up from scratch the London office (UK headquarters) of the then new Anglo-French
electrical engineering merger between GEC and ALSTOM (based respectively in the
UK and France) - global manufacturers of trains and power stations (now
dismantled). The office served as the hub for contact with and visits from
ALSTOM Directors in 60 countries of the world; for Government Ministers and
officials as well as foreign and British Ambassadors; and not least for our
worldwide prestigious clients, often from those very countries whose ancient
past was my key interest! See under
build the website
of ALSTOM Head Office by taking pictures and writing text for the Commercial
Section. This involved finding out the names and getting into dialogue with
product specialists in ALSTOM factories around the UK, to get them photographed
and listed as contact points for orders coming in from abroad, whether for
spare parts from Iran, turbine generators from Egypt, or HVDC equipment from
India. [See under ALSTOM
q Compiled a comprehensive paperback catalogue (while a student working my way through university) of Sanskrt and Arabic books on sale in the first half, and books on the main Oriental Religions in the second - as assistant and cataloguer at Luzac Oriental Booksellers, 46 Great Russell Street, opposite the British Museum.
a generation of young people
in the history of Western painting, sculpture and architecture: some of my
ex-pupils now work in the art or art history world [Royal Academy/British
Museum]. I taught the children of many of the famous people who lived in
Hampstead (Mel Calman the cartoonist, Richard Rogers, the architect, Joan
Bakewell, the television presenter, Alison Weir the history author, Thomas
Neurath, Director of Thames & Hudson – and many more). [See under
given freelance art history lectures at adult education classes, including at the Victoria &
Albert Museum on the principles of Hindu and Islamic art, at summer schools in
London for American students, and was invited to gave a guest lectures at
Marlborough College (Anthony Blunt’s old school). [While teaching at
q Helped to bring about the publication of a decade of illustrated books by distinguished authors, artists, critics and designers while publisher’s assistant to David Herbert (previously MD of Studio Vista and Elek - see attached obituary to understand his reputation). [See under The Herbert Press Ltd]
q Briefly ran own literary agency on leaving the Herbert Press, (outside office hours and therefore not very productive at first), dealing with authors with ideas for illustrated books. [While in temporary PA positions mentioned p.3]
q Was, however, most successful with my own two books [Harper Collins] on festivals in the ancient world (The Year of the Goddess), and priestesses in the ancient near east (Journey of the Priestess). A few years earlier, while still married, compiled with my husband an Arabic/English Businessman’s Dictionary [Graham & Trotman]. [See under The Herbert Press and Languages].
Spent a summer in
the Department of Transport typing and organising a large report
with several contributors and including diagrams, maps and charts using
Masterdocument. On the strength of this obtained the job in the Deputy Prime
Minister's Office in
a comprehensive catalogue of Oriental Books for the Bookshop Luzac in
Lived all my childhood in Southern
Africa, in the area known as the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (father
in the British Colonial Service in
Have travelled extensively in and all the way round Africa (by ship, train, car and carriers) – notably Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth,* Cape Town, Beira, Zanzibar, Dar Es-Salaam, Aden, Port Said, Alexandria, Gibraltar, Madeira/Uganda, Sudan, Kenya.
As a student went by road across the
In Europe I have been to
Have travelled extensively in the Middle East (including Syria (Ebla, Damascus), Jordan (Amman, Petra), Turkey (Çatal Hüyük, Kültepe, Boghazhkoy, Ankara, and west coast) and several times all over Iran and Egypt with detailed inspections of archaeological sites and museums) – usually with the prime aim of visiting archaeological sites and museums and looking at architecture, but also noting current conditions.
Planning (conditions permitting) to go
¸ world religions, literature and music, especially English, Arabic and Indian
¸ visiting museums and exhibitions
sailing and tennis (in countries warmer than
¸ watching F1 racing
¸ beach-combing for stone-age tools on the South Coast of Britain
¸ gardening and DIY
¸ sewing & knitting
¸ collecting books
Neé Lynda Thomson -
Father (H H Thomson CBE) was in Colonial Overseas Civil Service in Northern
Rhodesia until 1968, then worked for the UN in
My overall view is that all religious traditions are valid, arising to suit different peoples under varied geographical conditions - and to be respected. In dealing with people of different faiths one needs to engage with them in their spiritual idiom if there is to be dialogue, rather than imposing Western attitudes. I believe in following the spirit, rather than the letter, of the Law and abhor literalist fundamentalism. I have Jewish, Muslim, Zoroastrian, Hindu, Christian, Humanist and agnostic friends of the moderate kind.
Grandfather Moderator of the Church of Scotland; I was leader of school choir in a Church of England school daily reading the King James VI Bible and Cranmer Prayer Book; became interested in Hinduism during the Beatles era and learned Sanskrt; went through a phase of involvement in Zoroastrianism through parents’ relocating to Iran, and in Islam through marriage to an Egyptian; finally learned about ancient world religions whilst pursuing PhD studies (Hinduism, Judaism and Zoroastrianism are late forms of these).