As some of you may have already noticed I am very fond of Morocco…
Since my first visit in 2015 I have returned many times to this beautiful, vibrant and friendly country. Most often travelling to the deep Sahara in the south to spend time with my Saharaoui friends camping, camel trekking and learning about nomad traditions and culture.
I have also spent time collecting stories, sharing my art and making paintings, sketches and photographs for an illustration project I am working on, which hopefully will one day become a dual language book.
Another abiding passion of mine is the study of natural history. As a child I went everywhere armed with a net, a plastic box and a copy of ‘The young naturalist’in the hope of finding something new I could take home and identify ( my very patient Mum could tell you some stories about my adventures…the wardrobe of flies…the bucket of toads…the paint tin of dragonfly nymphs….I was a one child biblical plague at times!)
I now take only my camera, which is better for the wildlife, for me and certainly for those I share a house with…and spending so much time in the desert has given me the opportunity to rediscover that childhood joy and wonder at seeing new wild things for the first time. Taking so many photographs has also led to me thinking about them as more than just source material for illustrations or an aid to identifying wildlife or plants and I have become interested in them in their own right. So I was delighted when one of my desert photographs was selected to appear in the beautiful book of Celtic and Arabian stories and photographs produced by the confluence group. (You can learn more about them here http://www.confluencetheworld.com)
It was taken at a nomad camp I visited in Chegaga in April 2017
The book also features my first original story, The fox and the moon, which I wrote after seeing a wild Fennec for the first time.
I love this wild and beautiful place and have enormous respect for the people who live there and know so much about its moods, it’s landscape and its inhabitants large and small. Walking and camel riding through this stunning wilderness then camping under the stars and waking in the soft light of dawn to find the tracks of Jerboa, Fennec fox and scarab criss crossing the dunes until they are smoothed away by the morning breezes is a very special experience.
I wanted to be able to share this with like minded souls so together with my friends there I have set up a small family run desert tour company so we can give people the chance to experience the desert first hand.
If you would like to travel with us to the desert to share these moments, looking for the flick of a sandfish diving into the dunes, listening to the soft plopping of camel feet across the sand and watching the magic that is the creation of sandbread, at which my friends are experts, you can!
Go over to http://www.campsahara.com to check out what we can offer. For artists and photographers the desert is an exciting source of inspiration and focus and I am happy to provide art tutorial by prior arrangement, just bring along your sketchbook and sense of wonder.