How lucky to find myself in Marrakesh during the Biennale in 2016. I came across this installation at an intersection while checking out local galleries in the suburb of Gueliz.
The Zbel Manifesto Collective of four artists from Marrakesh comment here on something close to my heart, a concern about the proliferation of plastic, or at least that is what their work says to me, though no doubt the French explanation tells more.
It would be impossible to go for a walk and pick up plastic along the highways in Morocco; you would never reach your destination.
Sadly the white flecks along this dry creek bed are plastic bags, not stones. We have yet to come to grips with the environmental consequences of plastic, that 20th Century wonder material.
The eating places on main highways have a familiar utilitarian, slightly shabby, non-pretentious air. They look more like truck stops than tourist destinations. Located on the outskirts of towns, more often than not we simply pass through such places, eager to reach the next big ticket attraction on our itinerary.
Not so at Zaida, a small Moroccan town (pop approx 5,000) in the province of Midelt. With the benefit of local knowledge, we pulled in. “Here you will eat the best Moroccan burgers”, grinned Said our wonderful guide and foodie extraordinaire. He chose a slab of meat, chatting to the chef who minced, spiced and cooked our burgers.
Meanwhile we sat on the the wide verandah at the red topped tables waiting expectantly. A local family were already tucking into their meal. Out the front, more cooking, with rows of orange tagines complimenting the blue china plates laid on our table. Across the street we spied a fruit and vegetable stall to buy fruit for later, and the universal truckie fast food pit stop Pizza Hut, its dusty sign holding no allure for us.
The burgers did not disappoint, while fruit and the friendly farewell from the vegetable vendors made our memories of Zaida all the sweeter. Sometimes it is the everyday simple experiences of life that make special moments.
Cats are part of the urban landscape in Morocco and so, they will figure strongly in this series. Though I admire the capacity of cats to fend for themselves and survive without human assistance, it is this very characteristic that can cause ecological upset. They are, as I have already noted, killers.
Of the 29 mammal species in Australia believed to have become extinct since European settlement, cats are implicated in all but one of these, according to an article in last weekend’s Australain Newspaper entitled The Feral-Proof Fence.
Some of Australia’s most coverted outback conservation areas such as the Kakadu National Park, a popular tourist destination, are no longer safe havens for our vulnerable, often nocturnal small, mouse-like mammals. That is why the Australian Wildlife Conservency plans to build a two-metre high electrified fence around 500 square kilometres of land, part of a former cattle station, 350 kilometres north west of Alice Springs.
This weekend wake up to the conservataion challenges that confront our planet. To me it is terribly sad that in this vast and wonderful land I call home, we find it necessary to corale our native animals to keep them from disappearing from the face of the earth.
The Medina in Fez is the place to see artisans at work. Mosaics, ceramics, leatherwork, ironwork and rug making all take place in workshops clustered together as they have for hundreds of years. There are alleys of tailors embroidering colourful Jalabas, and a noisy section where workers bash iron pots into shape.