Just as Madame Jeanne Augier breathed life into the fabulous Hotel Negresco by filling it with outstanding Art collections, Mo and I have started building up our own, sourcing pieces that remind us of our travels. From the first trip we took, our souvenir of choice has always involved finding a piece of art or homeware.
Like the Negresco, I too hope to have filled every inch of our walls and surfaces one day. I love the idea of being surrounded by items or pictures that have a story and seeing the styles and materials used in different countries.
It’s also nice when other people bring you back things from their trip away. We’ve been lucky enough to have so many quirky things bought for us over the years and we always find a place for them, no matter what they may be!
This piece here was the very first one we both bought together. Its one of the biggest we have, and we found it hidden amidst the array of handicrafts on sale at the Jem el Fnaa markets in Marrakech. Considering how fascinated we were with the colours and vibrancy of this city, we surprisingly chose a black and white painting to bring home. The contrast of black and white tones where colour should have been gave it an air of mystery and that’s what we both fell in love with.
If you aren’t used to buying art abroad, you may not know that all canvas prints can be taken off the frame and rolled up to fit in your suitcase. Once you get back, any good quality studio or framing shop will be able to stretch it back for you, its not too expensive either. If you’re in Manchester I would recommend using ‘Framing Manchester’ in Chorlton. They know exactly what they’re doing and they can do pretty much anything. We like to experiment with all the different styling options they have and we use them for near enough all our artwork, whatever it may be.
It was so easy to get carried away with shopping in Marrakech and this painting wasn’t the only thing we brought back with us. I grew up in Saudi Arabia, and the markets here reminded me of ones I had seen all over the Middle East. Individual stalls all sold similar things, they are open till late in the evening and prices would always fluctuate depending on the customer. As a tourist we’re bound to be overcharged so in markets such as the Jem el Fnaa, haggling is key. Growing up with my mother, an experienced negotiator, I had no problem bartering my way through sales I was even called ‘Berber woman’ by one of the stall owners as I reminded them of the experienced local women who come to shop.
The key is to seem keen in the item you want to buy and then on hearing the (over the top) price visibly lose interest and explain you weren’t willing to pay that much for it. As soon as you start to leave they will pretty quickly start dropping the cost to something more reasonable. Always try and pitch slightly lower than what you are willing to pay and the seller usually meets you in the middle. As much as I believe in trying to get the best deal possible, it’s important to be realistic. Don’t expect to pay nothing, after all, the sellers need to make a living.
I fell in love with a hand embroidered blanket whilst we were strolling around and was quoted the equivalent of £800 for it to start with. I managed to buy it for a final price of £110. It is to this day my all time favourite holiday purchase… even though we had to buy an extra holdall just to carry it home in (note for anyone who may be thinking of buying a hand embroidered blanket, they are SUPER heavy so make sure you’re baggage allowance can cover it!).
The piece itself is a work of art, if I had walls big enough I would have it hung up so it could be admired and appreciated at all times. It’s split into sections and each one is a different style and pattern yet it all works beautifully together.
The last thing we bought was this lovely candle holder. We saw them everywhere we went, they even had them in our hotel so we knew it would be a nice thing to have and use at home to remind us of our first holiday together.
That… and you can never have enough candle holders.
Anyone else have any great art pieces from their travels? or any quirky souvenir collections?? Please do share!