Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cultural Gathering in Fez from Friday

Curator Samten de Wet, organiser and artist Anne Graaff and artist Cheryl Traub Adler

Ever since 2005 when Anne Graaff and her twin sister Tessa bought their house in the Fez Medina, they have visualised opening it as a base for art workshops and events. This week that dream will take shape in the form of GIF, or the Gathering in Fez.

The Graaff sisters have both had extensive experience in running arts centres in South Africa. They have invited around 20 artists, authors, poets, academics and spiritual seekers to Fez for the first in what is hoped to be a regular and stimulating cultural gathering. All will be contributing as teachers and presenters.

Members of the public are invited to join in many of the events. These include the The Blue Box art workshops, a writing workshop with writer and actor Lisa Fugard, a poetry evening led by Shelia Fugard, a guitar concert accompanied by visual effects by Mike Dickman and an exhibition by Anne GraaffDetails are in the program below. 

Curator Samten de Wet says that the basis of GIF is about "cross-cultural dialogue". "I was ordained as a Buddhist monk, I began as a Christian and also have some Jewish in my background, and I'm involved in Sufi mysticism, so I live and breathe cross-cultural dialogue."

Based in Capetown, de Wet is the director of the Lux Lapis Project, which aims to "set the tone for peace through culture". He will be giving a series of talks and visual presentations titled The Space of the Imagination, which will touch on topics such as Art and Mythology; The Artist as Initiate; The "Imaginal" World; Creativity and Imagination. He will also be giving a talk on the work of the late American artist Cy Twombly. 

Some of the highlights: 

Writing workshop and poetry event

Writer and actor Lisa Fugard

Writing workshop: Your Truth in Fiction

This workshop will be given by writer and actor Lisa Fugard at the ALIF Riad. She describes it as exploring the "alchemical process of taking the ‘stuff’ of one’s life and fictionalising it."

"How far does one go with the act of “making it up”, she asks. "Play with gender, with age, with setting - all the while exploring the emotional dynamic at the heart of the your story.

“Write because it’s a secret passageway, a door that swings open to reveal unexplored worlds. It’s a companion and a balm. It will challenge you and provoke you in all the right ways. There is an essential, private relationship between you and the world that is revealed when you sit down with a blank page.”

Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Lisa Fugard is the only child of playwright Athol Fugard and novelist and poet Sheila Meiring Fugard. She moved to New York City in 1980 to pursue an acting career, and has appeared on stage and screen in numerous roles, including as Isabel Dyson in the original production of her father's My Children! My Africa! She now lives in Southern California with her family.

Since 1992, she has written many short stories for literary magazines, and articles for the New York Times travel section. In January 2006, she wrote the novel Skinner's Drift, about turmoil on a South African farm.

When: Wednesday September 25 from 10 am to 1 pm. 
Where: ALIF Riad
What to bring: pen and paper or a laptop
Cost: Free

Tea, poetry and music 

Novelist and poet Shelia Fugard will be reading some of her poems at this event, held at the Ruined Garden restaurant. Local and visiting poets and musicians are invited to participate. Poets may read up to five of their poems.

Born in Birmingham, England in 1932, Sheila Meiring moved with her parents to South Africa when she was eight years old. She went to the University of Cape Town, where she wrote short stories and studied theatre.

She met playwright Athol Fugard when she acted in one of his plays and they were married in 1956.

In 1972, Sheila Fugard published her first novel, The Castaways, which won the Olive Schreiner Prize. Subsequently, she published other novels including Rite of Passage, in 1976, and A Revolutionary Woman, in 1983.

Fugard has also published collected poems, including Threshold, in 1975, and Mystic Things, in 1981.

When: Wednesday September 25 from 4 - 6 pm.
Where: Ruined Garden restaurant
Cost: by donation
Please advise organiser Anne Graaff ( if you wish to participate in this event.

Art workshops and talks

These workshops are led by the Art Box collective, a group of art teachers and experts, including Alex Downes, Cheryl Traub Adler, Anne Graaff and Samten de Wet.

The techniques of collage 

This is a practical workshop run by Anne Graaff. Bring old magazines for cutting up and assemblage.
"Using my tarot pack as an example, I will teach people how to do it," she says.

When: Monday September 23 from 10 am - 12noon. 
Where: ALIF Riad
What: Bring magazines
Cost: Free

Creating Pinterest boards

Illustrated talk about how to create Pinterest boards by Samten de Wet on the theme Textures of Fez.

When: Monday September 23 from 12 - 12.30 pm
Where: ALIF Riad
What: bring cameras
Cost: Free

The Artist's Journal

Moroccan women by Eugene Delacroix
Explore the tradition of keeping an artist's journal and learn some useful art techniques. Before the days of photography, travellers used their sketchbooks as a visual way of remembering. Artists who made sketches and watercolours of their travels in Morocco included Delacroix and second world war artist Cecil Michaelis.

When: Tues Sept 24 from 10am -12pm
Where: ALIF Riad
What: Bring pencils and watercolour paints, if you have them. 


Based in Paris, guitarist Mike Dickman says, "I've studied Indian and Japanese music quite deeply, and know a little about Chinese and Arabic music as well. Because I happen to be a Tibetan Buddhist, I've spent quite a lot of time with its liturgical music.
"I've played many different styles, ranging through rock, blue-grass and other country styles, blues, folk blues, English and Celtic music, what passed, in the 60s, for folk music, and many other, more eclectic styles.
"I'm not looking to stun or impress or excite people with my music. What I try to do is to bring them to feel the innate quiet at the roots of their souls."

This concert will be accompanied by visual imagery.

When: Thursday September 26 from 7.30 - 9 pm
Where: ALIF Riad
Cost: Free


The Major Arcana Cards of The Tarot du Paris

Artist Anne Graaff has created her own unique take on tarot cards using collage.

When: Monday 23 September 4 - 5.30 pm
Where: Jardin des Biehn gallery and Fez Cafe
Cost: Free

GIF Program

Please note: All events except those at Dar Hajj are open to the public. If you wish to attend specific events at Dar Hajj, please contact Anne Graaff, details below, as numbers are strictly limited.


Dar Hajj, 7 Sidi Nali, Old Medina, Fez. 05 35 74 06 01
ALIF Riad, 6 Derb Drissi, Fez. 0535624850
Ruined Garden, 2 mins downhill from Jardin des Biehn. 06 49 19 14 10
Jardin des Biehn, 13 Akbat Sbaa Douh, Fez Medina. 05 35 63 50 31
Cafe Clock, 7 Derb el Magana, Talaa Kbira, (opp. the Bouanania). 05 35 63 78 55

Further event info

Anne Graaf on 06 48 08 23 81 or

Friday 20 September

4pm - 5pm. Tea at Dar Hajj

5 - 5.30pm. Introduction, Anne Graaff and Tessa Graaff of The Blue Box Project

5.30pm - 7pm. Opening lecture - The Space of the Imagination- by Samten de Wet at Dar Hajj

8pm. Welcome drinks and Dinner at Dar Hajj.

Saturday 21 September

4pm - 5pm. Tea at Cafe Clock

5pm - 5.30pm. Talk by Samten de Wet at Cafe Clock. First of the series on The Space of The Imagination.

6pm - 6 30pm. Talk by Mike Dickman at Cafe Clock on The Alchemist by Michael Maier, an introduction to the spiritual and operative approaches to alchemy. 

7 - 7.30 pm Talk by Vera Dickman at Cafe Clock on Michaux, Bachelard and the Alchemical Phoenix of Transformation.

8pm. Dinner at Lune et Soleil.

Short visual presentation by Samten de Wet: The Space of the Imagination.

Sunday 22 September

4pm -5pm. Tea at Cafe Clock

3. 30pm. Talk by Samten de Wet at Cafe Clock - next in the series on The Space of the Imagination.

4 - 4.30pm Talk by Giaco Angelini at Cafe Clock on What I look for in a Photograph.

5 - 5.30pm. Talk by Tessa Graaff at Cafe Clock on Matagi:Venus in India: some readings and discussion. Mataji is the female counterpart of Babaji, a Mahavatar of northern India and part of the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga tradition. The readings will focus on her views on the female archetypes of the Madona, the Goddess and the Whore.

8 pm. Dinner at Dar Hajj

A short after-dinner visual presentation by Samten de Wet - The Space of the Imagination. 

Monday 23 September

10 am - 12pm. The Blue Box art workshop at ALIF Riad on Techniques of Collage. A practical workshop. Bring some old magazines.

12 - 12.30pm The Blue Box art workshop: Illustrated talk by Samten de Wet on creating Pinterest boards on the them The Textures of Fez. ALIF Riad. Bring cameras.

4pm-5.30 pm Tea and exhibition opening at Jardin des Biehn gallery. The Major Arcana Cards of The Tarot du Paris by artist, Anne Graaff. Exhibition opened by Mike Dickman.

5.30pm - 7pm. Lecture by Gary Lee at Fez Cafe, Jardin des Biehn on The Tarot Archetypes as a Path to Individuation. The talk will be on the Major Arcana of the Visconti-Sforza deck which is the oldest complete Tarot pack. It deals strictly with Kabbalistic symbols which utilize what Jung referred to as transformational archetypes. 

8pm. Dinner at Dar Hajj

A short after-dinner visual presentation at Dar Hajj by Samten de Wet on The Space of the Imagination.

Tuesday 24 September

10am -12pm. The Blue Box art workshop - The Artist's Journal. Explore the tradition of keeping an artist's journal and learn some useful art techniques. A practical workshop. Bring pencils and watercolour paints, if you have them. At ALIF Riad.

3pm - 4pm. Lecture by Samten de Wet at ALIF Riad on The Art of American Painter, Cy Twombly.

4.30 pm- 6pm Tea at Cafe Clock

6pm - 6.30pm. Cafe Clock. Visual presentation by Stephen Emslie on Experiental Theatre. A tour through a new, imaginative and exciting trend that is rapidly becoming a buzzing and popular London scene - an art-form that combines theatre-in-the-round, cinema, and the allure of intrigue.

7pm - 7.30pm. Cafe Clock. Visual presentation by Anne Graaff on Beauty and the Beast and the Theatre of Life: Contemporary Innovative Design. A meander around the recent Maison-Objet Design Week in Paris, with some reflections about contemporary thinking. A tour through thoughts that are curious, creative, kitch, camp, cavalier, minimal, sumptuous, savvy or simply silly, embedded in object design. Where does it lead?

8pm. Drinks, dinner and guitar at Dar Hajj

Short visual presentation by Samtem de Wet on The Space of The Imagination.

Wednesday 25 September

10 am - 1pm. Writing Workshop at ALIF Riad by Lisa Fugard on Your Truth in Fiction. 

2.30pm -3.30pm Talk by Samten de Wet at Dar Hajj. Next in the series on The Space of the Imagination. 

4pm - 6pm. Tea, music and Poetry in the Ruined Garden. All poets and musicians welcome. Bring some poems/songs. Event led by Sheila Fugard.

8 pm. Dinner at Dar Hajj, followed by a talk with visuals by Clare Burgess, lecturer in landscape architecture at the University of Cape Town on Gardens of The Imagination.

Thursday 26 September
10am. Meet at Batha to take a taxi to the American Language Centre (ALIF and ALC in Fes) in the Fes Ville Nouvelle. We will visit their bookshop and have lunch in their garden.

2.30pm - 3.30 pm. Photography talk and walkabout in the medina with Giacomo Angelini. Starting at Dar Hajj.

4pm- 5pm. Tea at Dar Hajj.

5pm - 6 pm Talk by Samten de Wet, next in the series on The Space of the Imagination.
7.30 - 9 pm. Guitar concert at ALIF Riad by Mike Dickman.

Friday 27 September

10am - 12pm. Dar Hajj. The Blue Box art workshop - Surprise Box - an art intervention.

3pm-4pm. Dar Hajj. Talk by Mike Dickman on Tibetan Visualisation Practices: the purpose behind the visualisations used in Tibetan Buddhism.

4.30pm - 6pm. Tea at Dar Hajj

6pm - 7pm. Dar Hajj Concluding talk by Samten de Wet on The Space of The Imagination.

7.30pm. Drinks and dinner at the Ruined Garden.

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1 comment:

pema said...

Anne used her considerable powers of persuasion to tempt me to Fes for this event but time and circumstances were not auspicious. I am very sorry about this. I would have loved to take part in GIF and also to meet fellow Tibetan Buddhists Samten de Wit and Mike Dickman. Mike and I have many mutual friends in the Nyngma tradition.There has been a great compensation in my life though. On Sunday 15 Sept. I took part in Memory of a Free Festival -- a reprise of the Beckenham Arts Lab festival I organised with David Bowie in 1969. Sunday was one of the best days of my life -- all the more exciting because the young people of Beckenham have decided to re-kindle the Arts Lab. Lots about this on Facebook.