Updated: Mar 22, 2020
Colin Watson and I were to exhibit in the Medina Art Gallery Tangier on March 20th, 2020. However, due to the current situation with the Covid-19 virus, the art exhibition was postponed. We were painting there together last May, and will hopefully be again sometime this year. Painting in Morocco is probably one of the most exciting places I have painted. It is pink, blue and green. We started in Marrakech, which is the pink city. Cities in Morocco seem to be colour coded. There is a white, green and blue city as well. Marrakech is a bustling vibrant city. It is vibrant in every sense, the activity in the suks, the crowds in the squares with snake charmers, men selling beautiful blouses for nothing. And the food is some of the best anywhere in the world. The Moroccan Tagine is world famous and for good reason. A Tagine can be with chicken, lamb, beef or just vegetarian. Breakfast is superb served with different pancakes. We tramped the suk of Marrakech for two days and got as far as the tannery which is an enormous walk. It was disappointing, but the shops around there have fabulous product. Anything made in leather is magnificent. After two days there we moved out to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. There was much to paint there. A whole valley and town on the crest of a low hill. The light struck it in different ways all day. In the late afternoon as the sun was going down behind a hill a farmer was bringing his herd of sheep home for the night. The sun was blinding but it merited a sketch. Then we went on a long drive through the Mountain passes winding and unwinding our way towards the desert. When we emerged into the pink rocky landscape it was another world. The desert is not sand, but rock. Quite firm and all pink. There are a lot of palm and olive trees around too. But the long scarps of rock shunting their way across the landscape is something wonderful. We went further down into the desert to Telouet which is an old fortress built to stave off enemies. Camels were there though not as exciting as I expected. We found an oasis of trees and great vegetation on the bank of a nearly dry river. All the rivers were fairly dry. But out on the rock there was some great subjects to paint.
I painted a lot in Casein. It is an ancient medium used in cave paintings over 10,000 years ago. It was also used by the Egyptians and Etruscans. To day it is nearly forgotten because it was replaced by Gouache. There is a big difference between them. I got into Casein because Colin used it a lot for many years and several of his best Moroccan paintings are in this medium. It has a beautiful texture and luminosity. It dries almost before you can make a mark, so it is not easy to use. But vale la peńa.
The exhibition in the Art Expo gallery will be entitled “Light and Shadow: two Irish painters in the footsteps of Sir John Lavery.” We called it this because when we were looking at the paintings together, Colin remarked: “All your paintings are about light, and all mine are about shadow.” It was obvious. So Colin will use black frames and I will use white ones. Dickon Hall is writing an essay for the catalogue which we hope will be in Arabic, French and English, with full illustrations. Looking forward to it very much.