Travel is not just about the places you visit. Morocco was providing plenty of visual treats this Easter and Warren and I were marveling at having some of the excuisite small museums in Marrakesh virtually to ourselves. Museum Tiskiwin was a particular gem – an old traditional Riad home, now housing the personal collection of Burt Flint, a Dutch, ex-English teacher, turned collector of Berber cultural artifacts. We had spent an enjoyable few hours tracing nomadic trade routes through the possessions of different tribal groups, before pausing in a beautiful shady courtyard to reflect on the craftsmanship we had seen.A gentleman caught our eye who had entered with a Japanese lady. Shortly, in the intimate setting, some aspect of photography provided the catalyst for conversation. He was Italian, living between Milan, Tokyo and Marrakesh, first having visited Morocco in the 60s. He was bringing his friend to Marrakesh for the first time.
I couldn’t help myself – his jacket was completely stunning!! He very willingly showed it to us, describing how it was an ongoing personal mending project of a much loved piece. Judging from his friends reaction, she hadn’t seen the beautifully patched inside before, or had ever asked him if she could photograph it. For a few beautiful moments, she, and we, got to study it – he became the artifact. “He’s famous, you know” the lady said afterwards, eager to communicate despite a language barrier, “google him”.
Our chance meeting had been with artist, designer and architect Sergio Calatroni.
This was just one of many instances during our stay in Morocco, where we met inspiring people living very different types of lives. Being immersed in a culture that contrasts my own is always invigorating. It helps me to challenge my thinking, approaches and decision-making generally, but also more specifically within my practice.
The years have been peppered with human moments such as this, that seem to come from nowhere – fleeting meetings that live long in the memory. They remind me every time of why I love to travel and how important it is to the creative process.
I wasn’t expecting to see a wonderful example of contemporary Japanese boro in Marrakesh, but thank you Sergio, for giving us that treat.
Sergio Maria Calatroni’s biography can be found here.