A famed Abstract Expressionist of the 1940's-1950's, Pollock would lay large canvases and tins of paint on his studio floor. He would then employ his method of 'drip painting', sporadically splattering, dribbling even throwing paint on the canvas, building layers upon layers of lines, textures, colours and meaning.
Through my eyes this is Morocco. It is ripe with many different individual elements, yet somehow everything majestically comes together. So, to truly paint the picture (pardon the pun) of this land, let me break down a few colours on the canvas of Morocco:
Red represents the faded, burnt hue of the Marrakech buildings. These structures form a flat city, with most buildings standing at a mere four storeys high. As a sign of respect, no building can exceed the 77m high Koutoubia Mosque.
Orange is the Moroccan orange tree. These trees are plentiful with dark green foliage and bursts of colour from the developing oranges. It is not advisable to drink any of the Moroccan tap water, so quenching your thirst with cheap flowing O.J proves a sumptuous substitute!
Yellow reminds me of Moroccan spices. In Marrakech you will see numerous 'Traditional Pharmacies.' Venture inside and you will discover a myriad of natural spices, herbs and oils all boasting different cures, remedies and cooking methods. Natural Argan Oil is particularly popular and unique to Morocco. It can be used for cooking, dry hair, body lotion, acne and to prevent ageing.
Green is the sacred colour of Islam religion. A local tour guide informed us that all religions are openly accepted in Marrakech. Although the majority of the population is Muslim, Morocco prides itself on staying open to different practices. The guide illustrated this, stating that the Jewish Quarter stands proudly near a Christian Church, which is close to the Koutoubia Mosque. Cats are also a religious symbol here, hailing from Egyptian beliefs, as a result the streets are brimming with furry friends!
Blue in Morocco traditionally stands for the sky. It was winter when I visited, but the sun was still shining and the sky was an ocean of blue. Prepare to fill your days with cool crisp cotton shirts! Blue is also the Yves Saint Laurent gardens formally known as the 'Jardin Majorelle' designed by YSL himself. This garden was a paradise of blue structures juxtaposed with green exotic plants, foliage and Moroccan tile mosaics.
Indigo is for the dye markets in the souks. Here, wool and cotton threads are prepared and dyed on site daily. These threads are hung to dry on make-shift clothes lines strung between building rooftops. The result is striking, when you look up, you are overwhelmed by a sky of coloured, bundled threads.
Just outside the souks the tanneries also use dye methods to colour animal skins. Be warned though, the smell here is repugnant, the workers look exhausted and animal skins are everywhere. If you are interested in textiles though you'll want to see it!
Gold is for the shining Moroccan artisans. The Ensemble Artisanal, was a great place to see these artisans at work. A little village broken into shops that manufacture on site, here you can witness how traditional products are made in Morocco. I was able to meet and converse with fabric weavers, carpet makers, embroidery artisans and Moroccan couturiers.
White traditionally stands for the Atlas Mountains. If you journey to the Mountains you will pass through the Berbere villages, where communities live off the land. Each village is named after the person who first settled there with many migrating from Egypt. Here the Berberes speak there own language, whilst in the city of Marrakech Arabic and French are spoken. The Berbere culture is also full of traditional crafts including pottery, sculpting weaving and iron work.
Finally to finish on perhaps the most important note-brown is for bread! In Morocco your bread is your utensil, forget knives and forks, get messy mopping up all those delectable Moroccan flavours.
The Moroccan canvas is overflowing with a myriad of colours and textures. Unbelievably there are many more that are impossible to describe justly with mere words! In my opinion the true richness and beauty of this land will always be best experienced in person.
Photography by Alana Flood