Self-exploring in Morocco (away from those big cities!) – 1. Les Roches Bleues

Not quite ‘turn left in the middle of nowhere and keep going‘ but………

No – we’re not really in the middle of nowhere – we’re just a few miles from the town of Tafraoute in Southern Morocco. But the desolation of the beautiful Almenn Valley certainly adds to the bizarreness of what we are seeking….

There we are – first glimpse….

The painted rocks of Tafraoute are the work of a Belgian artist Jean Verame. His canvas of pink granite was already rounded and sculpted thanks to millennia of weathering and, with the support of King Hassan 11, he set about creating a desert transformation. In 1984, with the help of the Tafraoute fire department and 18 tonnes of paint, he spent 3 months altering the landscape.

Strange as the sight is from a distance, there is beauty up close……

…..the multicoloured palette is easier to see…..

….as is the scale of the undertaking!!

Where’s Wally!!!!! (Shouldn’t have worn blue today, Tom!!!)

Verame meticulously painted caves, cracks and individual rocks. The intervening years haven’t been kind and there has been significant weathering. But many of the rocks have a vibrancy indicating obvious restoration – this is a tourist attraction after all!!

Art or Abomination!!!

This is not Verame’s only example of Nomadic or Land Art.  He began painting stone in 1975 in the Cevennes and went on from there to complete projects in Chad, Corsica and the Sinai among others. Such monumental undertakings take years of preparation and months to complete, using where possible, local techniques and specific pigments.

You either love it or hate it!

Did this beautiful barren landscape need such intervention? – no – of course not. But while it’s impossible to reconcile these blots of colour with the surrounding hues, I’ll admit the scene brought a smile and has definitely left an impression!

26 thoughts on “Self-exploring in Morocco (away from those big cities!) – 1. Les Roches Bleues

  1. Ah, we are entitled to an opinion here! On our last tour of Morocco we spent a few days at Tafraout – fantastic hiking! It was hot during the day but incredibly cold at night – you could see your breath at breakfast, like in an English winter. Anyway, we also visited these rocks, not quite knowing what we’d make of it. And what did we make of it? Ugly, gratuitous, unnecessary graffiti!! But that’s the whole point of art…to generate different opinions and to not appeal to everyone. Absolutely loved Tafraout by the way…..and all of rural Morocco come to that…

    1. It has no appeal from the distance but I felt differently up close – I enjoyed walking around and among the rocks and was less aware of the surrounding landscape and its impact. The whole region is beautiful isn’t it… it was so quiet – we practically had the roads to ourselves – but then it was Ramadan so there were fewer locals out and about…

  2. Hmm, I’m normally pretty open to different artistic endeavours, but I’m finding it hard to like these. I love this sort of barren landscape and I reckon nature does a pretty good job of painting them all sorts of beautiful hues, so why cover them up with these flat and unappealing shades?!

    1. You’ll agree with a BBC quote I came across Sarah – ‘Their main effect is to highlight nature’s effortless superiority over man as a sculptor and manipulator of light’

  3. Art is left to the interpretation of the beholder. While some may find what Verame has done an abomination, others (like me) find it fun. It takes some of the monotony out of the landscape. I had never heard of Verame or his work before your post, but I enjoyed seeing it!

    1. I’d definitely seek out his other works should I ever be lucky enough to visit some of the remote places in which he’s left his mark…

  4. I think they are really neat looking. I didn’t realize how big they were until the ones with y’all in the photo. Massive rocks! 🙂

  5. Those photos of you guys by the stones really highlights just how large they are and the time it must have taken to paint them, wow!

    1. We’d no idea of the scale – even as we were parking the car and making our way towards them.. Mind you, it must have been boring enough at times, painting such huge surfaces with the one colour!!!

  6. These are new to me so I can’t really give an opinion but I liked the various comments your readers made, including your replies. I think I come down on the side of the ‘no likes’ but maybe close up their magic might work on me.
    Incidentally, I’ve signed up again to receive notification when you post as WP seems to have removed you from my list, or removed me from your list, I’m not sure which, and I can only find you in Reader and then not always.
    Hopefully I’m back for a long stretch again!

    1. I think you’re jinxed Mari!!! I’ve no idea why I’m not on your list! 😅. As for the rocks, I think the ‘NO’s’ will definitely win this one!!

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