Friday, May 12, 2017

Trivium Retreat Crafts Deeper Meaning

The Trivium Retreat, to be held from September 10 to 17, will explore the connections between craftsmanship and spiritual life

Hamza El Fasiki, founder of Craft Draft

The retreat will include workshops by craftsmen and artists, including copper etching, bookbinding, herbal medicine, calligraphy and photography.

As well as learning how to "make", there will be visits to sacred spaces in and around Fez such as Moulay Ya’qoub, the Qarwaeen and saintly shrines, which will provide space for contemplation.

One of the organisers, Miriam Hicklin, says, "We will also seek answers to some of the most pressing questions that we have today concerning our work and lifestyles. Why do we work? What work should we do? How does our work connect to the rest of our existence?"

Miriam Hicklin of Atlas Apothecary
The Trivium Retreat is the result of a collaboration between Miriam Hicklin, Hamza El Fasiki and Aiysha Amin.

"Hamza and I had throught for a long time that there was something more that could be added - to explore intersections between spirtiual and artistic life of Fez," says Miriam. "An artist friend and I in London, (Aiysha), were on a spirituality and nature retreat. She is involved in the traditional arts and loves Fez, so we thought about offering a workshop which was a combination of art, spirituality and nature."

Miriam Hicklin lives between London and Fez, where she is the founder of The Atlas Apothecary. At Atlas, she teaches what she has learnt from apprenticeships with herbalists and midwives, and instructs in herbal medicine making and holistic health. She will co-ordinate the retreat and teach herbal medicine.

Hamza El Fasiki lives in Fez and is the founder of Craft Draft. The son of a master craftsman, he came back to craftsmanship after training academically.

 Craft Draft is an art studio in the medina which teaches traditional crafts in short-medium term workshops. At the retreat, Hamza will lead the crafts workshops.

Aiysha Amin, artist and craftswoman

Aiysha Amin lives in London and is a practicing artist and craftswoman, trained at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts. On the retreat she will lead the lecture curriculum and introduce participants to the principles of Islamic geometry.

"Craftsmanship has always been part of people's spiritual lives, and is integrated within Sufi traiqas (brotherhoods)," explains Miriam.  During the week, participants will also be able to visit local shrines for circles of Dhikr (Islamic Meditation).

Hamza will host participants at his studio in the Fez medina, where they will learn the principles of copper etching and bookbinding. Participants will have an opportunity to observe the work of craftsmen around the Medina, including a blacksmith, woodworker and tile-maker, as well as being taught calligraphy by a local master.

There will also be a trip to the saintly shrines of Moulay Ya’qoub and Lalla Shafia outside of Fez, where Miriam will hold a class on the principles of herbal medicine. She says the group will have a picnic and forage for herbs. "We will identify plants in the wild, and I will talk about how we use each of the herbs that we find, with a holistic approach. Artiemisa, lavender, hardy mediterranean herbs should still growing in September, and we will make infusions and perhaps lotions."

Towards the end of the week, photographer Omar Chennafi will host a masterclass on spiritual photography on the slopes of Mt Zalagh.

Accommodation will be at Dar Arsama in the Fez Medina, a beautifully decorated guest house run by artists Violeta Caldrés and her husband Adil Elfasi. Some of the workshops will be held there.

"We are arranging every day in a structured way," says Miriam. "The day will begin at the first call to prayer, when there will be time for prayer and meditation - silent time - followed by the workshops and lectures."

Miriam emphasises that the retreat is open to people from different spiritual practices and traditions. "We have no restrictions on who we take. We are open to having people who haven't done much art practice - for them to take the skills they learn over their week into their professions - and also to people who do practice art. These days, people have no time. There are very few who do their jobs in a mindful and purposeful way, and have an appreciation for making things. We want to offer people the opportunity to change their minds about what they want to do with their lives."

Group size is limited to 10 on the Trivium Retreat, and just a few places remain. The deadline for applications is June 10.

For further information, please see

To complete an application form CLICK HERE. 


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