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.
I woke up that night with horrible food poisoning, and thank you poor attendant who helped to unclog my 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 before descending into the desert. Somewhere in the mountains I was introduced to many goats and 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 sure must be desperate to flow forth.
But for me, painting plein air needs to come from strength. Strength to stand up to the relentless interest of people and to the elements that have no interest in the painters needs or discomfort. It was therefore luck that I washed up in the perfect spot over the atlas mountains in a place called agdz and the hidden away ‘Caspah des arts’.
With five sun drenched roof terraces and beautiful interior courtyards, the caspah reared out of the crumbling mud ruins on the one side and and on the other, gazed over the palmeries and onto the distant mountains. I’d found a sanctuary that oozed beauty and was feeding me with inspiration while I recovered from my ventures at the food market. Soaking up the surroundings and painting in the tranquility of the riads comfort, paintings flew onto the tiny canvases I was tentatively tackling…Just the beginning…