The grocers (‘Hanout’ in Moroccan) is the centre of Moroccan daily life. Someone in the family will visit it, perhaps, three times a day. Moroccans always have fresh bread with every meal and it is the Hanout from where it is bought. Of course many other things are bought there – seemingly almost everything imaginable. The Hanout is the place to go for gossip, I have learnt may things there. There is a tension in this painting between the grocer and the woman. If we start with the woman the eye is led to the box of ‘Tide’ to the tin of tea and tomato puree etc. then up to the man. The door, ajar, is in a pivotal position.
At the time of this painting I allowed myself one bottle of wine a week (I could afford more) and that would be a celebration on Saturday when I did not paint in the evening. As part of the celebration would cook a special meal to go with the wine. As far back as I can remember I have always loved Saturday evening. The clock is set at about twenty to six and it is dark outside, therefore it must be winter. The bottle of wine is in a prime position, everything leads to it. Even the table and its boards eventually lead to it: the eye is led to the left of the window sill which in turn leads to the bottle. From the bottom right corner the eye moves from the glass of wine to the cigarette packet, to another glass of wine, to a tomato, up to the clock, to the shadow from the open window that points to the bottle. There are two glasses of wine.
This painting records the first time I saw a Moroccan woman sat in the forecourt of a cafe, although it is a common sight now. At that time it was considered a brazen act of defiance against custom and tradition. But customs and traditions have to start somewhere and sometime in the future this may be considered an innocent aspect of custom and tradition. There still are those who frown on such behavior. The centre panel 24x24cm ids coloured and eight 12x12cm grey panels surround it in the form of a cruciform. This helps to concentrate the image on the couple.