Reflection – Morocco trip

I’m lucky to have the opportunity to visit Marrakech as my field project. Morocco is the most west influenced country in North of Africa. Its rich culture is a blend of Arabs, Berber, African, Mediterranean, European and oriental influences. Majority of Moroccan culture is inherited from the Berber people, self-named Amazigh (plural Amazighen). There were about 14 million of Berber people in Morocco. The roots of the Berber culture reach deep down into Morocco’s pre-history. They have strong link with their land, a sense of community, hospitality, sharing food and a specific relationship with spirituality. Its openness to many influences whether Mediterranean, African, Oriental, European, or international have helped define its current characteristics. Their art/artefact/language is imbued with value (symbols, belief presented in shapes and colour). It is interesting as it can act as inspiration as well as parallel & integrate with the changing interests of modern culture, art and artists (i.e Henri Matisse and Paul Klee).

I decided to focus my project on Berber culture and art. I was excited that we’re able to visit a Berber village (Ourika village) on our last day of the trip. I saw evidence that it’s been touched by modern civilisation as seen on some of the concrete structure of the houses and modern toilet as well as westernised clothing. I felt that tourism is a part of the village’s income. Nevertheless, I admire how they still keep their Berber identity such as language, textiles, friendliness, hospitality and tolerance for new culture and people. The women of the family run the house. I believed the household skills (such as cooking, weaving, henna art) are passed down through generations. I saw lots of household still produce weaving products that applied Berber signature art in colour and signs/symbolism (red-blue-green-yellow colours and geometric & diamond shape influenced from Islamisation). It was such a pleasure and humbling visit.

The visit to the village has also inspired me to produce works inspired by a song the women sing when they weave. They sing to forget the harshness of life. Berber lyric is called Thamawayt. The song and life stories are passed down for generations and describe the lives of women. Using reference and research from my trip to Jardin Majorelle – YSL Berber Museum, I’ve made a design plan that combined illustration, stich and Berber’s rich colour (red, orange-terracotta, blue, yellow and green). The trip has not only enriched my personal knowledge but also act as resource for this project and future projects.

© Ayu Baker. 2015. Selfie.

© Ayu Baker. 2015. Selfie.



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