Morocco by Kate Ballis February 08 2016


I tend to look at the places I visit through a monochromatic lens. To me, recalling my hometown of Makassar is drenched in pastel blue and a touch of dusty pink. This spectacle of a singular colour palette is what calls out to me from photographer Kate Ballis's recent photo series from Morocco.

Kate's dessert-scapes are pretty hues of pastel pink and brown, interrupted by swathes of murky green palm trees. The dusty pink schema is broken up by natural formations of sand dunes and hills contrasting with man-made lines of buildings sculpted from the same earth. Documenting the the journey from Marrakesh to Skoura, Merzouga and finally to Ait Ben Haddou, Kate’s photographs from the road are far from pedestrian. Let’s travel with Kate through her own words…


Marrakech to Skoura

My fiancé Tom Blachford and I travelled to Marrakech in the height of summer last August. We spent hours pouring over rugs at Chez Les Nomades store in the Medina, drinking sweetened mint tea and deliriously deliberating over the perfect saffron rug. A week after being seduced by the city's charms, we decided to take a road trip through the desert. Travelling through Tizi n’Tichka pass in the High Atlas Mountains, the temperature dropped dramatically. The landscape changed from a deep brown, to a pinkish ochre and an eery haze set in. On we drove through the Valley of the Thousand Kasbahs and spent the night at the incredible, L’Ma Lodge where we had a delicious feast by moonlight with produce grown on the property.


Skoura to Merzouga

We continued journeying through the surreal landscape of Boumaine Dades. A thick haze gave the landscape a painterly feel. We stopped occasionally for mint tea and met people selling Rose Oil, the local product. At sunset we finally arrived in the Szhara Desert and took a camel ride through the epic sand dunes. We sat up on a dune together and watched the sun set. This was beautiful/romantic/cinematic until our 10 year old camel leader tried to sell us fake fossils, bringing back memories of the hustle of Marrakech. 


Merzouga to Ait Ben Haddou

We woke before sunrise and walked by foot to the Saharan sand dunes, peaceful without a tour. The haze set in and we didn’t have a golden sunrise, but the peacefulness sitting on the sand dunes, listening to the wind, was magic nonetheless. H’ssain our driver is from Merzouga, so the next day he took us to the local Sunday market. We were the only westerners there, and were totally safe, but H’ssain freaked out when he lost us, poor guy. He took us on some off road tracks, and again the dirt roads were barren. But we looked down, and there was a view of palmeries that went on to infinity. Hundreds of thousands of palms. A true oasis.

Words and Photos by Kate Ballis