Creative in Marrakesh – The Montresso Foundation

Wherever you are in the World you tend to take your passions with you – mine is creativity and the arts, so being a curious explorer by nature I have found myself digging around to find out where I can go and who I can meet to satisfy my hunger for all things creative.

Marrakesh is constantly surprising me, most people come here and fall in love with Les Jardins Majorelle, but many also think – so what else is there? Historically the arts here have been heavily sponsored by the French, most galleries or residencies are French owned, that’s why I think British people are less aware of what is going on. There is a lot – a lot to see here… I’ve been here for nearly 6 months and I’m still discovering new places to visit, and its so open – people love talking about what they are doing and showing off their art space.

One such French conceived space is The Montresso Foundation and Jardins Rouge, it is a bit of a hike out of Marrakesh but well worth a visit. Montresso houses several studios, accommodation, lounges, a pool and a gallery – the site is peppered with sculpture and works of art. The thing is that land is still affordable here so these places tend to be ‘enorme’ meaning that the artists who work here can create significant and more accurately ‘large’ works.

Montresso accepts up to 8 artists at the same time, and sometimes houses 30 per season. And you are a lucky artist if you’re accepted, all materials are provided, everything you need is at your disposal – you don’t even need to think about food. In return for this generous cocoon for creativity the foundation keeps some of the work that has been created. The owner is a particular sponsor of street artists, reflected in the current exhibition of work by Jonone and other street artists such as Jace (a French street artist with work around the Marrakech Medina), and Henrique Berkirsch whose ‘Aziz’ character can be seen in Marrakesh as you step outside of the train station.

You can find photography, sculpture and painting here, personally I loved the photographic work by Wahib Chehata – an African artist who was inspired to represent the ‘Renaissance of Timbuctoo’ using renaissance techniques such as chiaroscuro while referencing iconic tableaus such as the ‘Pieta’ replayed with black Malian figures. Kouka who is half French and half Congalese also appealed to me, he works in paint on wood, and has created a character a ‘bantu soldier’ who is a recurrent theme in his work, in the les jardins rouge are the windows of an artists squat which Kouka painted with his soldiers, the building was being knocked down for luxury flats and these pieces set in concrete were salvaged – they appear like stone freedom fighters marching in formation through the fields.

If you want to visit the foundation, you can book direct for the 11am tours on a Saturday – if you want a creative tour I can organise this for you with a local travel provider, just drop me a line.