Akkal means clay in Berber. To me it just sounded like a lovely name of a company, something that rolled off the tongue, but as a pottery studio it made perfect sense. We met Charlotte Barkowski on our second day of filming in Marrakech. We started her interview at the parent showroom, Fenyadi, a lovely two story expansive shop in the industrial area outside Marrakech city proper known as Sidi Ghanem. It was lovely, but stark and white and could have been a showroom in any city.
Things changed when Charlotte suggested we venture to the workroom. We loved the idea of capturing amazing handwork being done (our core mission!), but also wondered silently if the men would mind us filming. It seems all tourists walk around Marrakech with large cameras pointed at people and storefronts and food, at donkeys and jugglers. All tourists get the swift wave of the hand and a scowl from many who do not want their image captured. Such was not the case here. I ask you: Do these men seem camera shy?
The studio was vast, but they had outgrown it and on that day half of the wheels and shelves and clay had already been removed. Wow, it was impressive even only half there! Something you do not see in our footage is the intimate group of women doing all the finishing work. They sit at tables off in their own area and do detailed inspections and final tweaks to each and every piece. I noticed they were chatting away, watching us with bright, happy eyes, and I commented on this to Charlotte. They like their separation from the men, she told us. This way they can speak freely and enjoy their workday with their friends. We called them the Gossip Girls.
Kay McGowan & Charlotte Barkowski