Particles of a deep sea bed

Words and paintings from Morocco by Felicia Finlayson

Fossils — Past and Present, by Felicia Finlayson

From camel height I observed the many fossils below — discarded and scattered — formed by centuries of weathering, aging, trapping within ancient times; particles of a deep sea bed, bones of animals, impressions of insects and plant life of a time long gone. A record of life before, an impression left like an image in a photo.

Some fossils had white inscriptions on dark rocks, whilst others had dark imprints on a pale surface. A few had several images interwoven upon the surface, one past overlaid on another past, or did they occur at the same time?

I thought of all the memories of the people of these times and pondered the possibility of passing them from generation to generation: ways to love and communicate, ways to hunt and gather, to grow food, the knowledge of clouds predicting weather changes and when to roam in their nomadic style.

During our time together we shared memories, hopes, lost loves, another way to love and maintain relationships — wise in the experience of time passed.

The writers recorded thoughts in prose or poetry, whilst I translated the sense of the environment and my emotions onto paper with ochre, pigment, threads and sand. Both a form of marking our time in the Sahara, as a fish left it’s skeletal impression on a stone marking its time in the sea long gone.

Will these learnings be recorded in some way — words, or art, to pass as scattered fossils to future generations to collect and ponder? Woven across generations in repeated patterns like the Berber rug thrown on the sandy floor offering a place to rest under the shade provided by the date palms.

Is it possible for thoughts to be caught and transferred? Passed in some mysterious way just as our present thoughts are captured on a tablet, or computer and sent by cyberspace? Or is it true that your thoughts are your reality? That you can imagine something and it happens — a parking spot, the ability to do perfect parallel turns all the way down a steep slope, or even to become who you aspire to be?

As the camel moved steeply downhill I began to wonder if a fossil was inanimate or has it become animate because it holds within it a history of a living animate object. Does it carry a spirit to be passed on to thread one generation to another?

Dali played with the merger of animated forms with unanimated objects. He sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious through strange-dreamlike qualities. Will my work reveal the secrets of the desert by allowing my mind to move into, and through, an unconscious state with meditation? .

© Felicia Finlayson Morocco 2018

Felicia on our shopping day in Rissani.

Felicia Finlayson is an artist who uses the writing process as part of her art practice. She recently took part in Moroccan Caravan, a creative journey in partnership with Cafe Tissardmine (Rissani) and Culture Vultures (Sefrou) beginning in Marrakech, taking in Fes and Sefrou and encompassing a desert camel trek and an artist residency. After taking part in daily writing workshops Felicia headed to the studio to work in watercolour or gouache, adding paper, string, camel hair and other found materials. Her wish is always to capture the spirit and essence of place, rather than reproduce it. Back home after the journey Felicia develops bigger paintings using different medium and methods. See her work from our Bhutan journey here.

Felicia explaining her artistic process to the writers in the artist studio at Cafe Tissardmine.

The next Moroccan Caravan will take place March 1–15, 2020. Beginning in Tangier it will travel via Chefchaouen (the blue city) and Fes arriving in Tissardmine for our desert sojourn and camel trek.

In Oct 2019 Jan will lead Haiku Walking in Japan — the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail in More details here.



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Jan Cornall

Jan Cornall

Writer,traveler-leads international creativity retreats. Come write with me at