In Egypt, a new adventure began for Lee Miller who moved to Cairo to live her idyll of love. Lee spent her days studying Arabic, attending university classes in chemistry, playing poker, taking short trips with her husband, and temporarily abandoning photography. Only in 1936, she picked up the camera again to document the long journeys in the desert with which she began to spend time in order to escape, after just a year after her arrival, that feeling of restlessness and personal dissatisfaction that she knew well.
In 1937 she decided to return briefly to Paris and, on the very evening of her arrival, she went to a Surrealist ball where she met old friends who, as soon as they saw her, run up to her, scolding her for having disappeared for five long years. During that party she also sees Julian Levy again who introduced her to Roland Penrose, art collector and critic, with whom she immediately struck the fateful coup de foudre.
After a few weeks away from Roland, Lee joined him in Lamb Creek, Cornwall, where Penrose’s brother had an estate. Time passed leisurely with friends: they dedicated themselves to hedonism, discussed art and spent their days immersed in nature, deciding to leave a month later to join Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar at the Hôtel Vaste Horizon in Mougins, in the south of France.
These were happy days for Lee, but too many months had passed since her departure from Egypt and, urged by her husband, she returned home. However, something had changed in her and Aziz realized it too: desert excursions became an excellent distraction, but they didn’t last long enough to satisfy the feeling of freedom that the woman craves so much. Together with an expert guide and some friends, she decided to embark on ever longer and more dangerous journeys, during which the desire to photograph resurfaces in her after a long time. Her surrealist eye is no longer bound by commercial requests to be satisfied and can now express herself freely: the villages, the ruins, the shadows of the monumental pyramids, the momentary and fleeting appearance of lights and shadows inspire and amaze her.
In 1939 Roland Penrose arrives in Alexandria: the two lovers, accompanied by Mafy, Lee’s sister-in-law, and the photographer George Hoyningen-Huene, make a long journey to Siwa, but after their departure from Egypt, Lee’s restlessness grows bigger and bigger and in June of the same year she decides to leave Egypt for an indefinite period.