Look up ‘travail’ and you find the phrase, ‘creation may travail in pain but it cannot escape its destiny,’ which strikes a cord of what this painting-travelling combination of activities is for me. I arrived in Marrakech with high hopes and headed with false confidence straight to Jamel-el-fner, the main market which simmers with a heady cacophony of pipes and drumming, as smoke funnels upwards into the night sky and the unfamiliar smells of sizzling spices and meats gathers heavy in the air. Circles of people pulsate and vibrate- trance like- building to a frenzied entrophic finale. Snake charmers and potion sellers appeal to the tourists search for all that is Arabian nights. And it does feel like that. Only a short flight from England, in Jamel-el-fner I am transported from the mundane comfort of the expected, to a place where I feel the thrill of the unknown and the freedom of being Lost.
Anyway, I wake up that night with horrible food poisoning, and thank goodness for the poor attendant who helped to unclog a blocked sink of vomit. It wasn’t an ideal start to my painting trip of joyous steady creativity,
The first few days I spent hitch hiking over the Atlas mountains where in one day you could depart the heat of Marrakech to be enveloped by glacier like conditions in the mountains and over the other side into the desert. Nursed back to health with some sort of spiced porridge and herbed teas, I longed to paint. In fact I was scared not to paint – scared to go any more days without evidencing all the creativity that I was determined must be desperate to come out.
But for me, painting plein air needs to come from strength. Strength to stand up to the relentless interest of people, to the elements that have no interest in the painters needs or discomfort. So I washed up in the perfect spot over the atlas mountains in a place called agdz where I stumbled upon ‘Caspah des arts’.
Five rood terraces, beautiful interior courtyards, crumbling ruins the other side of me, and overlooking palmeries and distant mountains. Finally I was in a place oozing beauty and feeding me inspiration at every new gaze. Soaking up there surroundings and painting in the tranquility of the riads comfort, paintings flew onto the tiny canvases I was tentatively starting out with… Just the beginning…