I was apprehensive but excited to join the trip to Morocco. Before going I decided to do some brief research into some of the places we would visit on our trip, such as the ‘Bahia Palace’ and the ‘Saadian Tombs’. The place I was most excited to see was the Majorelle Gardens, after reading about its brief history. The building and gardens took 40 years (1886-62) to create, by the French painter Jacques Majorelle. The garden covers two and a half acres of land, and is filled with exotic plants, trees and pools decorated with water lilies and lotus flowers. What makes it so exciting and unique is the vibrant primary colours. The blue paint used on the buildings is called the “Majorelle blue”, making it unique to this site.
I was surprised to see how busy it was on the streets and in the different sites. On the streets you are overwhelmed by the different smells of spices, dust and food cooking. When you visit the square, you can hear the snake charmers and their instruments and the sounds of people talking and cars/ mopeds massing and beeping. Different to the outside, the sounds from inside the buildings are much more tranquil. You can hear birds chirping and fountains dripping and the light sound of Moroccan instruments playing in the background.
Everything I experienced in Marrakech became part of the inspiration for our project. I was most inspired by the variety of colours and smells, and thought that they would be really interesting to experiment with in my project. I wanted to use these senses to come alive in the book, and give whoever’s looking at it a brief experience of the smells and sounds of Morocco.
Whilst in Marrakech we decided to re-group, so that we would be working with others who had similar ideas. I was put into a group with Maris, Freya and Nuw, and we all wanted to focus on the senses. Whilst in Morocco we came up with the idea of designing a book which would include fabric, dyed using the dyes we bought in Morocco, some would even be infused with spices, orange blossom and argon oil. The book would also include some pages of interesting artworks, sketches and patterns that we were inspired by in Marrakech. We also wanted to have the sounds we recorded in Morocco playing as you look through the book. We had the idea of using an ‘Ipod’ so that you could listen to the sounds through headphones.
After returning home, we had a group discussion and gave everyone a specific role, making sure that everyone could experiment with media from outside their subject. My other role was to create the element of touch in the book, by using my sewing machine. Maris’ role was to create a typeface that would correspond with the editorial and the ‘book of senses’. Nuw and Freya’s role was to dye the fabric and stitch.
Personally I think we worked really well as a group. Even though we did most of the work in our own time we always kept in contact over social media. We would always keep each other up to date on the things we were doing. As well as this we all had our own style of work which showed whist we were putting the book together. before our presentation we all got together to put our work in the book.
Freya decided to cover the book in fabric, that was dyed using some of the colours we collected in Morocco. In Morocco we bought several powdered colours such as, ‘the colour of Marrakech’, ‘Saffron’, Indigo and the poppy colour. Most of the colours worked really well to dye the fabric, however the indigo didn’t take as well as we thought, however it left a subtle tint on the fabric. Whilst in Morocco Freya, Nuw and myself also bought some mint tea, argon oil and orange blossom essence. We decided to use the oil’s to infuse the different fabrics and decided to use double-sided tape to stick the tea under the fabric. Whilst putting the book together we decided to create labels giving instructions for example, “smell here” or “touch here”.
For the element of ‘touch’ there are many different textures within the book, including the disposable images. As part of my role I decided to buy some thread and an embroidery kit and started stitching over the printed images. For example, one of the images was of a large lantern, the picture was quite dark and didn’t highlight the detail that was on the lantern so I decided to take some yellow thread and stitch the outline. Another example was a picture of a plant pot in the Majorelle Garden. Instead of creating an outline of the image I decided to re-create the tile pattern on the image.
Overall, I think that the project turned out better than expected. We were quite apprehensive at the start of the project that our work wouldn’t be enough to fill a book and that our work might not be compatible. However our designs worked really well and we were able to portray most of the senses. We wanted the book to be a celebration, that didn’t have a structure like most books. Whilst in Morocco we decided that everything was so hectic that this was something we needed to show in the book.
If we had more time to create the book we would definitely consider taking it further and possibly creating it on a bigger scale and experimenting with different techniques from outside our subjects. As well as this we would have liked to have experimented with sugar paper, infused with oranges or the spices so that we could have covered all five senses.