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; Lisa Bornholdt from Germany, who does installations based on interior architecture; Lucia Perluck, from the USA, who does jewellery, and Fatma G├╝ltas 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.

The next AiR Artisan residency will be held in March. Details on their blog - link below.

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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