Morrocan travels i

Morocco has a fascinating underbelly. My thoughts on this country before I visited were not enticing, I pictured concrete buildings, lots of sand and not a lot more. To be honest, I was expecting heat to have annihilated any chance of an interesting culture developing – this was another thing I knew to expect, heat. But these pre-conceptions were a bit like the experience of being presented with something new on your plate when you’re a child. You turn your nose up and pretend to heave and try and push it to the side.

A teacher from Morocco had visited Wales, he taught art in a small town or village in Southern Morocco near Agadir. His brother had moved to the UK where he seemed to be doing quite well and made a trip over every now and then. We became firm friends and I promised to visit Morocco after he stayed.

Having been to Northern India I had already met the call to prayer thoroughly for the first time. I’m no Muslim but there’s things that you learn to admire about the way in which some people carry themselves. An Islamic empire grew out of the dust in Northern Africa and moulded itself into something truly beautiful. I had visited a number of mosques in Rajhastan and later also in the UK, I’ve begun to think of this prayer time as a form of yoga, or a way of meditating.

I had the intention of documenting my trip and creating an exhibition of images recording the trip but I couldn’t arrive at a theme – though I have always been interested in documenting things as they are, without removing people from their daily activities – an honest look at the place and a record of a time, or a way of recording things as they are at that time in the most informative possible way.

As you can tell I walked into the Moroccan sphere with little knowledge of what to expect. I had quizzed Hakim on the basics; the language, the possibilities of terrorism, any dangers and such and I booked a hotel well in advance, thinking this the most sensible method on arrival. Of course, arriving in a place is always daunting, but my expectations were completely blown away – the hotel was rubbish, riads all the way! If you don’t know what a riad is, it’s an internal space with balconies on the inside – there are no windows facing outwards, instead you usually find there is a central courtyard which is open or has a glass roof – allowing light to fall in the centre of the space so that residents can enjoy privacy. A roof space, with mint and ‘gunpowder’ tea and you have a picture.

Goat paintings

I grew up in the Welsh hills wondering how I could find the goats that I knew were roaming the hills nearby. It took me until I was almost out of Uni to meet them and it was worth the wait. In the foothills of Snowdonia, Cwm Bychan, I met a single goat standing on the other side of the river Artro. I chased it with my camera and a Kodak film through the trees and out onto a plateau looking out over the Rhinog Mountains – I had discovered the elusive nature of this shaggy beast.

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Years later I am still curious about these lovely animals. I next met them en masse as I traipsed the wilderness of the same valley. They were sitting in a large group – I counted 21 this time. There was a combativeness about these, rutting with one another – I was impressed by the strength of their horns – something I had considered mainly ornamental previously.

Wild Goat
Acrylic on Canvas – Framed

I think, in all, I have only met these creatures five or maybe six times – but they’re there, living amongst the hills, an entirely nomadic independent existence.

Mountain Solitude
Acrylic on Canvas – Framed

Moroccan Jungle

The view from the balcony of a place I stayed in Morocco near Agadir. This was a rather rubbish strewn space, quite wide and uncomfortable to reconnoitre. Harsh rocks and thorny plants were strewn everywhere – but in amongst this environment would be meandering goats who would be searching out small shrubs and other tastey morsels.

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Marooned

When the water is flat and the sun is out there can’t be many better places than out at sea. The air is gentle, voices carry far but light and you are far from the hustle and bustle of the town. Out here you can look into the blue-green water and see jellyfish floating by along with trillions upon trillions of tiny particles. Upon the buoy we found ourselves tethered when our engine failed, until later we were saved by local fishermen who bound us to their vessel and carried us home.