Marrakech Sketchbook

In April our family went to Marrakech for a week and the city of colours, noise and smells that has inspired so many didn’t fail to disappoint, from an artist’s and textile designer’s view.

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On our first day here we got lost in the colourful souks of the old Medina, had the first taste of tajine, couscous and whisky marocaine (green tea with mint), marveled at the evening extravaganza on the main square Jemaa el Fna – and I got a henna tattoo I was not planning to have.

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It was only my second day in Marrakech and I started drinking whisky in the morning, at lunch and in the evening. It’s not alcohol though in this Muslim country, but the national beverage – green tea with fresh mint.

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Part of the Art Deco villa in the most stunning-stopping-you-in-the-tracks blue in the Jardin Majorelle 💙🌴It used to be the painting studio of Jacques Majorelle amidst the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen. Later Yves Saint Laurent became the owner of the gardens, with plants from all parts of the world in perfect harmony.

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The city at the blue hour before sunset. It was quite a magic view from our rooftop restaurant, with the snow-covered Atlas Mountains clearly in sight, a golden light, the muezzin’s evening call and lots of birds suddenly flying over the city.

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There is a saying in Marocco: If you only have one day left to live, spend it in Marrakech. If you only have one hour left, spend it on the Jemaa el-Fna. It is the main square in the middle of the old Medina and it really comes to life around sunset. A hundred food stalls make it a buzzing open air restaurant with smoke rising from the barbecue and hundreds of lights as decoration. There are live musicians on the square, dancers, gamblers, snake charmers, henna tattoo artists and … thousands of people flocking to this place, locals and tourists alike. It is a sight to behold! The UNESCO made the Jemaa el-Fna part of the world’s intangible cultural heritage.

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This is another sunset view of the main square Jemaa el-Fna with the Koutoubia Mosque in the back. Its high minaret tower is a good point of orientation when you get lost in the souks and alleys of the Medina as it will always bring you back to the Jemaa el-Fna. We were standing on the rooftop terrace (together with dozens of other people) of one of the surrounding restaurants to have the best view of the evening extravaganza.

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When you travel with children and especially when you walk around sunny cities for hours you often need an incentive to keep them going. And what could be the most popular of them all – ice cream, of course! In Marrakech we found a great cafe with Italian style ice cream, and they also had locally flavoured ones like date and fig. We went for mango, mint and chocolate.

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Marrakech is called the ‘Red City’ for a reason, all the buildings range from a light ochre to pink and crimson. During our time there we only saw blue skies, and the bright North African sun gave it an extra shine.

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Around the blue hour in our favourite rooftop restaurant that we found on our trip to Marrakech. My original intention was to keep it mostly in a blue-yellow-contrast as that was so stunning, the yellow lamps and the evening blue sky, but then the painting started a life of its own and became quite colourful.

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As a pattern designer there was no way of not seeing all the tiles and mosaics in the city. This particular patterned staircase I saw coming downstairs from a rooftop restaurant in the old medina.

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The Jardin Majorelle is famous for its electric blue Art Deco house, but not so many people know about Villa Oasis, located deeper into the gardens, where Yves Saint Laurent and his partner actually lived. The villa is not open to the public but from what you can see of photos online, the interiors are beyond amazing. Its outside look is pretty amazing too, but it was a beast to paint, all that greenery and details! I took it step by step, painting it for 30 minutes a day and decided to stop at this point. #dreamhousegoals