I was lucky to fit in my trip to Morocco in February, just before we were all locked up, and I returned to Essaouira for the first time in a decade. My modus operandi when travelling is to paint on smaller “wild” panels with oils and in watercolour on paper, and from those plein air studies I can produce larger works back in the studio.
The challenges of painting in the souks took a while to get used to again, as the locals are always curious and happy to spend hours watching a painting come together (or fail!), and distractions are plentiful. I would find a quiet spot to paint from, set up my easel and start painting, only to discover that my spot was, in fact, someone’s street stall pitch and have to pack up again!
The fortified sea walls of the Medina rearing out of the Atlantic evoked Jimi Hendrix’s ballad “Castles made of sand”, written in a small village across the beach. This gave me the idea for a show that could comprise marine and architectural elements and which also eludes to the fragility of current times, and the continual frustrating of all our best laid plans. The feeling of freedom I experienced painting the seas of the Atlantic, whether in North Africa, the wild west of Ireland, the Scottish Hebrides, or on my doorstep on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, was my personal antidote to this, and one I hope to share with others in this exhibition.