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Ceramic Painting by Khadija Achatach – The Pearl of Ag(h)adir, Zaythoun Suleman

Is creativity something that is innate or something that can be taught?

We will discover the answer to this question together.

On a recent trip to Ag(h)adir in Morocco, we were fortunate to meet a wonderful fisherman’s family who enticed us with the most remarkable tagines and the best fisherman’s pie dish ever to be had.

Salad was served as a starter. It was a remarkable salad mix that demonstrated colours and enriched with flavours. Each salad was placed side by side and whether you tasted them separately or mixed them with other salads on the same plate, the tastes were out of this world.

The pie had pastry for sure with vermicelli and filled with various seafoods. The taste was tantalising as was the tagine dish served as the main meal. It was topped with vegetables cut in long shapes making the dish look similar to the Atlas Mountains.

From the onset, it was clear that I had stumbled into the home of a creative person. I stared in front of me upon the wall, there was a fascinating 3D sculpture painting. Not trying to be rude by staring, I glanced away but my inner self could no longer stop myself by being awed by the artists remarkable creativity. I could no longer resist but to get a closer look at the painting on the wall and its intricacies. It seemed like pottery had been placed upon a hard board and the style gave it a three dimensional feel to it. A feel of being within the painting. Each part of the painting was unique.

The mother of the family came over and said she will show me other pictures also. She took me around her home and we visited all the paintings. I asked her where she purchased them from hoping it would be in my holiday budget. To my surprise, I discovered that our remarkable host, the dear mother of the family who we visited, who was not only the chef but also the artist who sculpted these three dimensional paintings.

We talk to the artist Khadija Achatach - The Pearl of Ag(h)adir.

How did you learn this style of painting and artistic expression?

I attended women’s workshops in Ag(h)adir teaching ceramics. They also taught us within this workshop how to do glass painting and three dimensional ceramic flowers. I learnt how to make ceramic 3d flowers first and I learnt how to sculpt little pottery containers to store items in.

I saw the three dimensional paintings at the workshop. When I saw these types of paintings, I liked them and that motivated me to learn this type of art.

After I learnt the technique, I would note down styles of different buildings as I walked past them in the street or in a museum or out by the sea. I would then store that memory in my mind, I would then go home and start on the painting with what I saw.

What materials did you use?

I make a paste like dough using ingredients, I would shape them and put it on the frame. I use a type of glue to stick it on, which takes a day to dry then I would paint them using normal household paints. Sometimes, I would add glitter to the paint to make a special effect.

Tell us about your childhood, what kind of arts did you enjoy doing?

When I was a child, I would design henna patterns on paper and then I would use those patterns and paint henna on my family and friends using the designs I had drawn. I would make the patterns up in my imagination and then I would do them on women’s hands.

I was always interested in colours and patterns and the way everything would come together. I started off on henna patterns, then I would make pottery containers and then three dimensional ceramic flowers and then three dimensional ceramic paintings.

As for the tagines and the salad and the food preparation. I always had an eye for colour. This was something I would design myself and no one taught me, it was just my own imagination.

Tell us about your background?

We are from an Amazigh tribe. Although, I was born in Ag(h)adir, after I married my husband who is a fisherman, we went back to my tribal family home in the fishing city of Essaouira. I stayed there for 11 years and most of my children were born there. We moved back to Ag(h)adir and have lived here since then.

Did your mother have any creative talents?

My mother was talented and would embroider on clothes and make beaded Jewellery.

The mind can only imagine the art of the tribal women of the Amazigh tribe.

So, is creativity something that is innate or something that can be taught? The answer is both.

It is innate and passed down from one generation to another but it is also taught and moulded. This is evident as dear Khadija sculpted these beautiful 3d paintings after attending workshops which guided her creativity.

The views of the artists, authors and writers who contribute to Bayt Al Fann do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Bayt Al Fann, its owners, employees and affiliates.


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