The Earth Has Three Colors [ La Terre a Trois Couleurs]

A Celebration of Moroccan Ceramics

Availability: In stock
Published: 2019
Page #: xii + 296
Size: 9 x 12
ISBN: 978-156859-401-9
plates, appendix, bibliography, index, notes, references


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Quick Overview

The Earth has Three Colors is an illustrated book about Moroccan ceramics, both the past, the present and the future. The title refers to the fact that red, grey and white clay have all been used at different times in Morocco. The book has ten chapters, covering different major areas of ceramic activity, some well-known and some less so. It is a lavishly illustrated, hardbound art book with museum quality images of the ceramics, photographs of studios and hand drawn maps by the author: think intelligent but not dry, sexy and stylish. It is written in English and French and will appeal to a broad range of readers, those who know about ceramics and those who want to know more, ranging from the traditional to the contemporary, from the prehistoric to the sophisticated.

Morocco has a unique geographical location: it lies at the intersection of three distinct regions – Europe, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa – and, bound by two different seas, is located at a physical, cultural and metaphorical crossroads, a place where different influences have mingled and continue to do so. The exchanges in the country have been various and changeable over the centuries: camel caravans represent trans-Saharan trade, Andalusian ceramics represent religion and migration, industrialization represents colonization, and globalization represents the adoption of international design practices. These have all linked Morocco to other parts of the world and brought outside influence to bear on its cultures. This book will show the great diversity of the ceramics of this country, caused in part by such trade, exchange and contact. And additionally, the changes illustrated by the ceramics of Morocco reflect the larger societal and cultural forces that have brought the country from the tribal to the contemporary in the last 200 years.

This is the first book ever written in the English, and translated into French, about Moroccan ceramics as a whole, the first time that ten significant areas of cultural achievement have been compared and contrasted and the first time that relationships and influences between these areas have been established. Previous books have tended to be much more specialized, dealing with one particular area, say the glazed ceramics of Fez, and only one other was written in English.

NOTE: Text is in English and French.


David Packer

David Packer was born in England and has lived in the United States since 1983, including Miami and New York. He graduated from Florida State University, Tallahassee, with an MFA, in 1994. Highlights of his substantial exhibition record include Exit Art and the Garth Clark Gallery, both in New York City, as well as Navta Schultz Gallery, Chicago. International shows include Morocco and Japan. As a curator, his work has been included twice in the Spring Break Art Fair. He has been in residence at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Kohler Arts/Industry program, all in the United States, as well as AIR Vallauris in France. In 2011 he was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholar award to research ceramics in Morocco, which began his fascination with Moroccan ceramics.

Preface by Adam Welch, director of Greenwich House Pottery, New York City
Introduction by the Author

1 The Rif: Red African Earth
Rural domestic pottery from the Rif Mountains and Algeria made exclusively by Berber women. This work has its roots in pre-history, as the Berbers were the pre-Arab inhabitants of Morocco. Production has lasted into this century, much later than in many other areas, due to the remote nature of the Rif mountains.

2 Fes: The Holy City
Classical Fez ceramics with glazed decoration. Along with the next chapter, this work forms the heart of traditional Moroccan ceramics, strong in terms of patrimony and spirituality. In previous centuries this work achieved a high level of sophistication. This is what people think of when you say Moroccan ceramics, what represents the brand.
3 Zellij: Only in Morocco
Zelllij is hand cut mosaic tile arranged in an often extremely complex geometric manner, from Fez and Tetouan. Even though it is traditional and centuries old, this technique is still produced due to high domestic demand. It has been able to change and adapt effectively in the 21st century.
4 Tamegroute: Deserted Oasis
Unique green glazed ceramics just made in Tamegroute. The potteries were intentionally set up here in the 16th century to economically protect Morocco’s interests in the northern part of the Sahara. The style of the work is directly influenced by Fez as the original artisans were brought in from there. This work remains very popular in tourist markets all over Morocco.
5 Resin: Male Urban Tradition
Urban unglazed ceramics with tar decoration made by Berber men. Ceramics was taken directly from the workshops to the souks, where it was decorated with a resin by the shop keepers: the designs were very sophisticated with a deep meditative quality. This work is still popular, but the aesthetic quality is reduced.

6 France: The Protectorate Imports
French ceramics with North African designs made for the Moroccan market. As industrial production boomed at the end of the 19th century in France, so manufacturers started to export their work to Morocco and other colonies. What is distinctive is the use of Islamic color and design. There is now only one of these French factories still in production.
7 Safi: Manufactured Manufacturing
Boujemââ Lamali was an Algerian Berber who was trained in Sèvres, France and then settled in Safi in the 1920s. What makes Lamali unique is that he worked as a named artist potter, not an anonymous artisan: truly a modern artist in the modernist era. Courtesy of Lamali, Safi continues to be a thriving ceramic center, supplying work to other major tourist destinations, such as Fez and Marrakech.
8 Fez: Contemporary Casting
Modernity changed the ceramic industries and the social structure of Fez. Now the artisans in this city use modern industrial techniques to imitate work from previous centuries, when the ceramics was in its heyday. This is the work that tourists will encounter now in Morocco.
9 Casablanca: Big City Living
Casablanca is now the largest city in Morocco and home to many companies that use traditional technique to produce tiles and other products that are often exported overseas. The designs are contemporary and use a global aesthetic.
10 Marrakech: The Sophisticate
Marrakech has established itself as the center for contemporary Moroccan design; ceramics is of course an important part of this, with designers, often trained in Europe, combining traditional technique and expertise with contemporary design ideas. This and the previous chapter show how the once thriving traditions are being re-invigorated and made contemporary.

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