Read more about Lauren residency HERE
I have never felt more welcome, or more embraced by a culture and its beautiful people as I do here in morocco.
The semi-rural town of sefrou have accepted me with open arms and open hearts.
A smile. An open hand.
There is no cultural barrier.
Kindness is its own language.
Here is a small window into my first week.
Our beautiful villa in Sefrou.
Sitting in the morning sun drinking Moroccan coffee and eating croissants.
Our homely sprawling French inspired villa was built in the 1920’s.
An abundant garden with cherry, almond and lemon trees.
Our lemon tree has the most perfumed lemons I have ever tasted.
One of the artisan carpet weavers of Sefrou medina.
This humble carpet weaver welcomed us into his studio and allowed us to weave a small piece of his rug.
The medieval style tool sharpening expert in the Fez medina.
This is where all the artisans maintain the tools of their trade.
There is a beautiful interdependency between all of the artisans in the medina.
I’m looking forward to meeting more of morocco’s talented traditional artisans over the coming week ..
AiR Textile Specific Residency
January 2016 sees Culture Vultures Launch their first textile specific Artist in Residence Project.
The aim of this innovative 4-week project is to encourage contemporary artists and practitioners from all disciplines to feed their creative practice and collaborate with the textile artisans of the region including the women craft makers of Morocco. The wealth of artisanal talent available includes carpet knotters, weavers, brocade experts, tailors, textile buttons makers, natural dyers, embroiderers, stitchers and cloth knotters to name but a few.
Amazight Community, Sefrou Region.
The residency focuses on cultural immersion and community engagement. The definition of an artist is broad encompassing all art forms and media. Culture Vultures has a preference for unexpected collaborations that combine sharing approaches and in-depth exchanges that involve an experimental approach and contemporary presentation.
This month long programme is hosted by Culture Vultures in Sefrou medina, which has played host to Roman, Jewish, Berber and Arab communities since the eighth century.
The itinerary will incorporate a series of lectures and workshops and includes an intensive 5-day trip which will comprise of:
- A visit to Fez medina, the oldest continuously working medina in the Islamic world. The artisanal movement here has existed throughout the rise and fall of several imperial dynasties over hundreds of years operating in this rich historic environment.
- A trip around and over the middle atlas mountains,
- The excitement of khenifra carpet auction
- A visit to the artist residency at Tissardmine. Situated in an oasis, this tiny traditional Berber village, is perched on the edge of one of the Sahara’s most extraordinary natural phenomenon’s, Erg Chebbi, a large dune stretching 22 kms long.
Throughout the residency Contemporary practitioners will join forces with traditional skills and approaches of weaving cloth, stitch work, and carpet knotting working in fibers, threads and cloth.
Image by W. Garcia
An example of some of the craftsmen and women you will meet are
- Expert dyers whose workshops bring faded fabrics back to life along with their skills in dying luxurious cactus silk and leathers to suit every taste with their intricate book of specialized formulas for an array of different colour combinations across the spectrum.
- A visit to a fundouq where you will witness the full collective of weavers utilizing their optimal dexterity to full effect with their hand and foot pedal operated looms as a full variety of wonderful shapes and patterns emerge in their sumptuous fabrics which incorporated hues of Moroccan sunsets, warm pinks, Islamic green and the quintessential Fez blue.
This month long residency offers a unique opportunity to meet this extraordinary league of textile artisans, while gaining an exclusive understanding and insight into their daily lives and the techniques they use as well as the workings of this ancient medina.
Ayano Nishimura. Artist in Resident 2014. Sefrou
Comfortable accommodation in Sefrou medina.
Extensive workshop time with the artisans and skills exchange.
Professional facilitation between visiting artists and artisans.
The rich program of activities mentioned above.
Does not include
Travel to / from Fez at either side of the residency.
Insurance or Food
Closing Date for receipt of submissions is July 15th 2015. For an application form click here Textile AiR application
For more information and submissions mail: email@example.com
AiR Artisana March/April 2015
Artists Call Out – Artists and designers are invited to apply for a five week artist residency working alongside a Fassi or Sefrouian artisan. Culture Vultures invites designers, visual artists, installation artists, writers, musicians, performers, researchers or conceptual artists to spend five weeks exploring the techniques, materials and personalities of the traditional crafts masters of Fez. The definition of artist is broad. C.V. has a preference for unexpected collaborations that combine sharing approaches and in-depth exchanges.
AiR Artisan – Spend 5 weeks residing in a house in the ancient city of Sefrou, a short distance from Fez, the Moroccan capitol of crafts and world’s largest car-free urban metropolis. Recognized by UNESCO and many national and international development organizations, the crafts play a fundamental part in the cultural heritage of Fez. This north African area is rich in craftsmanship and the makers play an important role in the cast. Artists will be housed together in the old medina of Sefrou, given workspaces where necessary and spend extensive periods alongside the artisans in their workshops.
When – This residency will take place from 15th March – 19th April 2015
Culture Vultures is an arts and cultural organization based in and around Fez. Founded in 2009 by visual artist Jess Stephens, C.V. has a rich and active portfolio of activities that encourages cross-cultural encounters through an arts agenda. With Jess’ experience in facilitating artist residencies, projects and presentations in Morocco and good relations with a network of artisans based in the medina and beyond, this residency promises food for thought, material for creativity and insightful exchanges.
Artisans portfolio – Local artisans that are in Culture Vulture’s network and who welcome an artist into their working environment include traditional plaster carvers, potters, metal workers, weavers, mosaic ( zeliig) artists, carpet knitters, wood carvers, tailors , slipper makers,tanners and more.
For more information, click HERE
Strolling through Sefrou medina is always an enchanting experience, this cultural melting pot has played host to Roman, Jewish, Berber, Moroccan and Algerian communities since the thirteenth century. Known as the Garden of Morocco and famous for its cherry orchards and artisanal craftsmen, the air is perpetually filled with the rich promise of what a day’s exploration will uncover. This weekend however, there was something more extraordinary at play as ten international artists from all corners of the globe opened their studio doors and their hearts to the public, to display the work they had undertaken as part of a month long residency.
Approaching Culture Vultures nucleus at the funduc, the atmosphere was charged with excitement. Aromas of turmeric, ginger, cumin and paprika filled the smoldering charcoal air, as I ducked and dived between the long threads that the carpet weavers had straddled on the upper balcony level, which formed the main focal point of the exhibition. The dulcet sounds of live jazz permeated through the veranda as people from all creeds and none indulged in sweet pastries and the traditional Moroccan tea ceremony to discuss art. Questions filled the air, as curiosities were aroused in this cultural haven.
In its previous incarnations this eternal site of artisanal creativity has been many things to many people and is as indigenous to the artisans of Sefrou as these works of art in turn, are representative of the shifting cultural context in which the artisans of today function in the medina. These transitions have been closely observed by the artists over the duration of their residency as they engaged with and learned from the M’allem’s (masters) using their experiences to inspire their own artistic process. As a site for a contemporary art project, ever-present in the dialogue of the exhibition, this offers us an opportunity to reflect upon these symbiotic evolutions.
The historical elegance of the space drew me to the quietly powerful work of Japanese artist Ayano Nishmiura whose exquisitely embroidered head scarf, juxtaposed so humbly with the pattern she used from the neighbouring tailor, who was actively stitching in the adjacent space. The sophisticated use of human hair offers the observer the opportunity to reflect upon the notion of a mane as a symbol of beauty and the Islamic tradition of modestly covering ones hair while ironically still having the element of hair externally visible.
Wilhemina Garcia’s installation, which deals quintessentially with raising environmental awareness of recycling litter, demanded a unique space to be seen and considered. She developed a new technique of twisting and reworking materials from the tailor she spent time with. Her vibrant use of colour and texture from the garbage she collected from the banks of the River Aggai in association with young people from Dar Al Shabab brings the enormity of the endemic littering problem of Morocco’s throwaway society to life in dramatic fashion.
The seminal work of New York jewelry designer Lucia Perluck, which is deeply embedded in Arabic calligraphy along with the ethnic colours and patterns synonymous with Morocco, required a space for reflection and to appreciate the associated meanings of its symbolic visceral visual language. Her collaboration with local metal engraver Mohammed Benjebara has fortuitously blossomed into a potential new business partnership.
As I continued my journey, I focused on the work of Japanese ceramicist Hidemi Tokutake whose unique subject matter surrounds visitors as we breathe in Tokutake’s multi faceted creations, which incorporates the artisanal context in an abstract manner.
Raw Bird from Paradise, a sculptural work in progress by artist and Culture Vulture Director Jess Stephens, epitomizes Moroccan cultural nuances through her unique modern approach. Rag rug technique, wicker frame, second hand djelaba and headscarf cloth constitutes this evocative piece. Stephen’s language of perception, which radiates from a central point in the artwork found its home in the axis of the exhibition affirming the projects emerging vocabulary.
In an alternative space Fatma Gültas’s hanging woven carpet completes the tapestry of time and repetition that influenced her work. Positioned as it was, hanging from the ceiling, it allowed an opportunity for reflection as the audience could develop their own personal response to the theme. Sharing a space with Lisa Bornholdt’s mixed media woven installation, the influence of Islamic geometric patterns permeates both art works and provides the viewer with a multiplicity of perspectives and platforms from which to communicate with the works and the recollections triggered within and without, as both pieces extend outwards into the space.
The inclusion of a collaborative projected film project above the tea room, convenes robustly yet tranquilly in a darkened room where this paradox informs the viewer of the artisanal process and enunciates the voices within the industry. Sonia Hamza, a French photographer and textile artist, Catherine Wilson, an Australian photographer and video installation artist and Alexandra Schmidt a radio documentary and experimental audio artist from the USA, developed this captivating and engaging reel. The artwork echoes their intrinsic understanding of the residency, uniquely interpreted through their own artistic philosophy, reflecting each artist’s pensive approach. The creation bears a romantic dimension and embodies something more mystical and intimate in a space where the artisans recount their own personal experience and the film is infused with joy, sadness and endless expectation. The inclusion of a soundtrack developed from Gnawa musical rhythms, perfectly portrays the trance like cycle of repetition that is indicative of their individual craft processes. It reminds us of the importance of this rich heritage and inspires us to give credence to their voices.
Culture Vultures exhibition of work from these artists – it could be said raises more questions than it answers. Where there are unanswered questions then there must be discourse, and where there is discourse there is passion. For the ongoing development of this inspiring residential arts project, this seems like a very good place to start.
Read the original article HERE
Application Deadline extended until 15th October…
Artist in Residency (AiR) Sidi Ali, Morocco
1st – 8th January 2015.
Artist’s Call out
Culture Vultures announces an artists’ call-out for the third edition of an 8-day artist in residence program around the Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch pilgrimage festival (Moussem), pulling artists deep into a fusion of Islam and Moroccan folklore.
The itinerary summary – Facilitated daytime and nighttime visits to the Moussem of Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch are interwoven with a program of talks, presentations, interviews and feedback dinners with locals involved in the Moussem and academics specializing in the field of Islamic studies and Moroccan culture. The program also incorporates cultural activities such as a hammam visit and local trips to experience the rich heritage and fertile landscape of the surrounding area.
The artists – The program is open to visual artists, dancers, performers, writers, designers, musicians, and multi-media artists interested in the rich culture, ceremonial festival and spiritual pilgrimage wanting to gain insight, draw inspiration and obtain material to feed their work and artistic practice. The definition of artist is broad.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form
For more information, click HERE