Visiting Essaouira’s artists’ studios
It was a Sunday morning in Essaouira when I headed off to the joutiya (flea market) with Maroc-o-phile for some cool hunting. We rummaged through old silk scarves and kaftans, bits and pieces of jewelery and bric-a-brac. But also went off to explore the artists’ studios located in the same district.
Arriving here was unlike any other studio tour I’ve done. Despite its sea views and industrial location, I couldn’t help but think that anywhere else in the world this area would probably be overtaken by yuppies for its sea views. Or hipsters. Because that’s something they would do!
But here in this little commune, it’s filled with shacks where well-known local artists display their colourful art naive artworks. True to naive art style, the artists appear to have little formal training and create using simplistic techniques and materials. I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the imaginative results.
I had a chance to meet up with Baki, one of the better-known local naive artists. As we sat in his studio surrounded by his colourful sculptures and functional art, he told me he seeks inspiration from the nature around him. With the sea and a bustling port nearby and a forest in surrounding the city, it’s not hard to understand why nature plays an important role in his creations.
We continued to wander to another studio where I picked up a fabulous original painting of a Gnaoua band. You see, I love supporting local artists and the annual Gnaoua and World Music Festival in Essaouira is one of my favourite weekends of the year.
Back in the Essaouira medina, art galleries abound. But my favourite place to admire local art is Patisserie Driss, a local institution with every inch of wall space covered and my favourite place for breakfast and located just off the main square.