Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Moroccan Photo of the Day - Fez Medina

Photo of the Day is the early morning view over the Fez Medina by Suzanna Clarke 
"Going onto the terrace at any time of day reminds me of why we choose to live here," says Suzanna. "All you can hear are the birds singing, occasionally donkeys braying, the odd sheep bleating and the call to prayer. It's magic." 

Suzanna Clarke is the Features editor of The View From Fez, and has been a professional photographer and writer for more than twenty years. 

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Monday, September 29, 2014

AiR Artisan Residency: Success in Sefrou

Last Friday and Saturday the culmination of a month's work by 10 international artists was on show in Sefrou. Organised by Jess Stephens of Culture Vultures, the artists have been resident as part of the AiR Artisan project 

During September, the artists have worked with local artisans to produce artwork ranging from videos to jewellery, embroidery using human hair, to furniture made from recycled garbage.

Visitors to the exhibition, held on September 26 and 27, included curious locals, city councillors, students and others who had travelled from Fez to see what the artists had been working on. Held in an ancient fondouk in the heart of the Sefrou medina, visitors wandered around the studios and chatted with the artists and each another, while musicians such as jazz guitarist Barry Glick (pictured right) and oud player Hamza El Faski added a laid back atmosphere to the occasion.

As well as the open studios at the fondouk, there were two other spaces nearby featuring a video, as well as a small gallery with two contemporary carpets on display, created as part of the project.

The 10 artists involved in the residency hail from a diverse range of countries. They were Catherine Wilson from Australia, who created a video installation; Hidemi Tokutake, a ceramicist from Japan; Camilia Hall, a designer and artist from Australia; Wilhemina Garcia from the Philippines, an interior designer and social entrepreneur; Alexandra Schmidt from the USA, a radio documentary maker who also works with experimental audio art; Sonia Hamza from France, who works with photography and textiles; Ayano Nishimura from Japan, who creates textile installations; Nora Fouad from Egypt, a craft maker who uses Islamic art for inspiration;  Lisa Bornholdt from Germany, who does installations based on interior architecture; Lucia Perluck, from the USA, who does jewellery, and Fatma Gültas from Germany/Turkey, who works with architecture and philosophy to make installations

Interior designer and social entrepeneur Wilhemina Garcia from the Philippines
Wilhemina worked with local youth from the Dar Shabab

 Philippino interior designer and social entrepeneur, Wilhemina Garcia, involved young people from a local youth centre, or Dar Shabab, in collecting garbage from along the river banks in Sefrou. On the day they did so, a number of other locals joined in enthusiastically.

"We collected a mountain of stuff, and then sorted through it," Wilhemina says. They did an analysis of what the rubbish consisted of. It was mostly different kinds of plastic - and created a pie chart - see below. Working with a local artisan, Wilhemina and the young people cleaned the plastic rubbish, then twisted it into twine that was used to create different kinds of seating.

"I hope that Morocco keeps going with these kinds of environmental initiatives," Wihemina says. "They could really use it." 

Analysis of the rubbish which was collected along the river in Sefrou during the project
Furniture made with twine from the recycled plastic garbage

Another artist participating in the project was Ayano Nishimura from Japan. Inspired by traditional Moroccan embroidery, she used her own hair as thread to create a beautiful border along a piece of fabric.

Ayano Nishimura from Japan
The month long residency proved highly successful, both from an artistic point of view and through interaction with local artisans. Friendships were forged and new skills learned. It was fascinating for the visitors to see the range of what had been created.

There is currently a call for submissions for the next residency, to be held from January 1 - 8, 2015 around the Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch pilgrimage festival (Moussem). The aim is for artists to be inspired by the fusion of Islamic and Moroccan folklore. It will be intriguing to see the results of this.

Hamza El Faski entertains the locals
Jess Stephens from Culture Vultures, who organised the residency

See our previous story on AiR Artisan CLICK HERE

For info on AiR Artisan residencies, see the Culture Vultures blog CLICK HERE 

Story and photos by Suzanna Clarke

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Moroccan Photo of the Day ~ Jake Warga

Todays Photo of the Day is a dramatic capturing of a storm over the town of Azrou as seen from Ifrane

(Click on images to enlarge)

The photographer, Jake Warga ,is from Seattle. He is a professional photographer, journalist and instructor who fell in love with Morocco while working on a photo assignment for the Morocco Tourism Bureau. His photos are represented by Corbis and Getty Images, and a multimedia series Faces of Africa was exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum. He teaches photography and filmmaking and holds a masters in Visual Anthropology from the University of London. Jake has traveled to over 50 countries for various assignments and personal curiosity.

Jake has been featured on The View from Fez several times in our Photo of the Day series. He is also the man behind the wonderful artisan series - a story we ran back in May 2013 (see it here).

See more of our Photo of the Day series here

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Friday, September 26, 2014

A New Moroccan Cookbook

Moroccan Cuisine from Mother to Daughter by Touria Agourram is expected in bookstores on October 2. The book is published by Albin Michel

Touria Agourram sets out 210 recipes and variations that have been transmitted from generation to generation of Moroccan daughters and mothers. In the book, prefaced by Fatima Mernissi, the author pays tribute to her mother and grandmother and points out that Moroccan women are custodians of the creative genius of this artistic and culinary skill.

Expressive, friendly and generous, the cookbook reveals the profusion of flavours and colours in  Moroccan cuisine. Each region has its own character and its specialties: the Southern and Berber recipes (mashed dried beans, semolina soup with caraway), the bittersweet nuances of the medinas of Marrakech (green salad with pears and walnuts, Harira pigeon) and Fez (grated carrot salad with orange, Lamb Tagine with quince), the freshness of the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts (stuffed with dates and almonds Fish, fish pastilla), not to mention the figs with honey, the horns of a gazelle, the Café Spice, Baklaoua ... and more.

In many countries or regions, cooking is an art long remained mere oral tradition, passed down from generation to generation. This book revives this culinary heritage and reminds us that the kitchen is also about love.

 Touria Agourram served as communications officer (public relations, press advertising) in the Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT) for more than 30 years and director of tourist offices in the Benelux Morocco between 1984 and 1988.

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