JOURNEY THROUGH MOROCCO’S EXOTIC LANDSCAPES (14-30 SEPTEMBER, 2020)
Join English artist Noel Bensted as he takes you on a journey though Morocco's ancient cities, hidden oases, to an artist's retreat on the edge of the remote Sahara Desert. (14-day option is available on request).
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Experience the kaleidoscopic wonders of Morocco through the eyes of renowned English artist Noel Bensted on this 17-day Painting & Sketching journey. Step back in time to a country whose rich colour palette inspired famous artists Matisse and Delacroix. Join Noel as he takes you on a journey from the vibrant bazaars of Marrakech, to a faraway oasis in the Atlas Mountains, an artist’s retreat on the edge of the Sahara Desert, the medieval city of Fes, frozen in time and finally, the charming blue town of Chefchaouen.
Noel's love of colour and light and his fascination with the people and culture of Morocco has developed into a passion for travelling, painting and exploring Morocco.
"I first went to Morocco 10 years ago on a painting expedition and was instantly captivated by the contrast between the harsh sunlight and intense shadows and the cool, soft pools of light which define it's interiors." Noel's artwork is driven by a love of narrative, capturing fleeting moments in time and imbuing them with a filmic quality. For this reason, he always works from life.
Noel has a BA and MA from the Royal College of Art, London. He has exhibited extensively throughout the UK and the USA, including solo shows from 2004 at the Medici Gallery in London. As well as his regular painting expeditions to Morocco, he has travelled through the cities and landscapes of America, Cuba and Europe.
Morocco nestles on the northwestern tip of Africa, separated from the rest of the continent by the towering Atlas Mountains and the vast Sahara desert. It is a country of contrasts, with its beautiful, sandy beaches, a rugged mountain interior and the endless sandunes of the Sahara desert. Its rich culture is a blend of Arab, Berber, European and African influences. And to walk around the labyrintine streets of the medina, with its colourful markets (souks), donkeys and people dressed in flowing gowns; is to transport the traveller back in time. Morocco’s vibrancy, exoticism and colour, have long been a source of great inspiration for artists throughout history.
Marrakech is a feast for the senses; an intoxicating city known for its souks, spices, snake charmers and hidden palaces as well as its trendy art galleries and elegant hammans. Travellers gravitate to the dark, narrow alleyways of the medina, with its endless mosaic of souks, enticed by the alluring scents and brilliant colours, the sounds of musicians, the rich folds of carpets, delectable foods, acrobats and perfumed gardens.
In the evening, locals throng to the central square, Jemaa el-Fna – a thousand year old carnival, with its dozens offood stalls, musicians, fortune-tellers, acrobats and snake charmers. An enchanted place where time has been suspended.
Eight hours drive from Marrakech is the Todra Gorge; a trench of gigantic rock walls that run through the High Atlas Mountains to form one of the most spectacular natural sights in Morocco. We’ll be staying in the beautiful oasis town of Tinerhir, with its lush palmeraies dotted with kasbahs; an easy hike to the Gorge and an opportunity to photograph and sketch.
Situated in an oasis on the edge of the Sahara Desert, is Café Tissardmine, an artist’s retreat created by Australian artist, Karen Hadfield in partnership with the local Berber community. Deserts as places of mystery, have always inspired writers and artists. Café Tissardmine provides an environment that is restful and inspirational and an opportunity for travellers to engage with the local culture and camp in the desert under clear, starry skies.
Fes is the most complete medieval city in the world; a living museum and UNESCO World Heritage site. Fès el-Bali the ancient walled city, is the main attraction. It’s an assault on the senses, a maze of narrow alleyways and covered bazaars, bursting with aromatic food stands, craft workshops, mosques and colourful inhabitants. Donkeys piled high with merchandise, force their way through the dark tunnels to fragrant souks, with their conical display of colourful spices. A perfect place to sit, sketch and watch the passing parade.
The trick is to dive straight in. It is initially overwhelming, but once you adjust to the pace of the city, Fes reveals its charms in most unexpected ways. Seemingly blind alleys lead to squares with exquisite fountains, filled with the rhythmic hammer-music of copper beaters. Getting lost in Fes is the best way to experience this vibrant city.
Chefchaouen perched beneath the raw peaks of the Rif Mountains, is one of the prettiest towns in Morocco. This mountain village with its distinctive palette of blue-washed buildings appears to have been created from an artist’s imagination. Over the centuries, the city grew and welcomed Jews and Christian converts alike. Chefchaouen's powder-blue buildings stem from religious rather than stylistic reasons. Jewish teachings suggest that by dyeing thread with tekhelel (an ancient natural dye) and weaving it into prayer shawls, people would be reminded of God’s power. The memory of this tradition lives on in the regularly repainted blue buildings.
Ease into the relaxed pace of life in this rural retreat. Take a stroll through the ancient medina, shop for handicrafts, go to a traditional hammam, hike in the Rif mountains or simply sit at a cafe and enjoy the pleasure of time passing by.
Throughout our journey, we will mainly be staying in what was once, beautiful, historic homes or Riads. These enchanting spaces include elegant columns, intricate carved wooden panels, tranquil internal atriums and courtyards. They give the traveller a real window into the soul of Moroccan life.
Art Travel Adventures Pty Ltd
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