Saturday, April 18, 2015

Art on Show in Sefrou Today

Artist Amberlea McNaught with one of the pieces she created during the residency
Today, Saturday April 18, from 3 pm to 6 pm in Sefrou, you can see the latest results from the Culture Vulture artist's residency program. In Fondouk Huddadine is a series of small "open studios", with artists on hand to talk about their work
Organiser Jess Stephens says that the Culture Vulture's fifth residency program is all about contemporary artists connecting with artisans using traditional methods. "The artisans are often surprised at the artists' skill with tools, their motivation to learn, and the way they apply the techniques," she says.

Two artists who stayed for the whole five week residency were Amberlea McNaught, above, from the UK, and Kristy Morgan from Australia. Other artists who joined them for shorter periods were Sander Wassink from Holland and Cristina Noguer, from Spain.

Plaster containers made by Amberlea McNaught

Amberlea is a ceramist from Sheffield, who occasionally works with leather. She says that the experience of working with master artisan plasterer Abdul Razzak Bahij "blew my socks off". From Fez, he has more than 35 years experience, and has worked on major projects including the Islamic Art exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum. "His technique was simple, but it was his speed and precision that were amazing," she says.

During her residency Amberlea was taught to carve blocks of plaster. "I learned everything through chisel, hand and eye, as we couldn't speak the same language...Before I came here I thought it (plaster carving) was a sacred art that is dead, but it is very much alive. The money is bad, but I love it so much, I don't care about the money."

Local artisan Rachid Farrouch with leatherworker Kristy Morgan and some of her work

Kristy Morgan, from Brisbane, is a leatherworker who makes bags, leather jewellery and shoes. She worked with two sets of artisans during her residency, including Rachid Farrouch. "At the beginning communication was difficult," he says. "However, as we went along we started to understand each other's ways of working and it became more of an exchange...I taught her the techniques I knew, and I was surprised at the way she (Kristy) applied them."

Shoes by Kristy Morgan

While Kristy enjoyed the experience of working with Rachid, she says working with the shoe "malaam", or master artisan, was more difficult, due to the attitude of his apprentices. "I had to push. They didn't understand I wanted to do things myself. They tried to do them for me." She feels gender also played a part. "Even in Australia, being a female leatherworker is not all that common." However she did succeed in making two pairs of shoes.

Kristy found her visit to the Fez tanneries eye-opening. "The conditions they were in gave me a totally new respect for the process. They work really hard."

Jess Stephens from Culture Vultures at the first open studio day

When: Saturday April 18 from 3 pm to 6 pm
Where: Fondouk Huddadine, Sefrou Medina. (Turn left at the river, and left again at the "junk" market, and then first right and ask for the Fondouk. If you get lost, phone 06 45 22 32 03.) 
Info: Culture Vultures CLICK HERE

Artists' websites: Kristy Morgan -; Amberlea McNaught -

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