Connecting artist to artisan – globally and locally

25 02 2014

Culture Vultures (C.V.) is an arts and cultural initiative coming out of the Fez region in North Morocco, that now celebrates its 5 year of being. One of C.V.’s main objectives is to facilitate artists experiences and to bridge the local and the global. Culture Vultures designs and hosts  artist-in-residency  ( AiRs ) projects annually featuring rich programs, insightful social engagement and quality presentation.  Artists from all mediums are invited to take part in the residencies with given application deadlines.


Photo by Anaas Med El Ismaeli

The new residency AiR Artisan in now open for submissions. Artist from all practices are encourage to apply for this rich and insightful residency. Spend 4 weeks alongside a Fassi artisan and discover the skills and approaches involved in traditional Moroccan crafts.  Exchange thoughts and concepts on a personal, artistic, and cultural level.

For more information see

Contact –  Jess at for an application form.


What would Seffarine Square be without the Fassi artisan, Hamid?

12 02 2014


Hammid photo by Vanessa Bonnin

Hammid photo by Vanessa Bonnin

“Aysha”, a Fassia resident and Artisans of Morocco Citizen Reporter, offers her second spotlight on a renowned artisan in the Fez medina.

“Hamid used to deliver and collect all the large copper pots throughout the medina so consequently knew all the families and gossip of Fez.”

Hamid started working in Fez’s famous Seffarine Square when he was just 8 years old, running errands for the copperware maalems (master craftsmen) after school. He was ‘a son of the medina’ as are so many young boys in this communal city. The only one in his family to work in the copper trade, Hamid was eager to watch and learn, to pass through the many levels needed to become skilled in his craft. Incidentally, he ended up working with the same maalem for 41 years, from 1969-2010. When asked if his children were interested in learning his craft, Hamid responded with a proverb, “No one chooses his mother.” All is destiny, it has been written… And his children’s stories seem to lie elsewhere.

Seffarine – taken from the Arabic word seffar – yellow, reflective of all the yellow (and red) copperware in the square, has always been the place in Fez to rent large copper pots (tangeras) for cooking at wedding feasts and other ceremonies. Seffarine tangeras can take up to 50 chickens at a time! Hamid used to deliver and collect all the pots throughout the medina so consequently knew all the families and gossip of Fez. When he returned the pots, he would wash them in the old fountain in the square – but were they clean of the stories his eyes and ears has been witness to…

For your own eyes and ears, take a listen to this catchy “2012 copper beat re-mix” direct from the artisans of Seffarine Square. (Hamid is the man wearing the white and light green patterned cap in the video.) You’ll be nodding your head in no time.

Amanda Staltham, travel editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, recently commented that Seffarine Square was her greatest discovery when visiting Fez: “I got more adventurous on my second day, branching off and discovering some amazing spots, the best of which was Seffarine Square. Beneath the shade of an enormous tree, coppersmiths bang away at enormous kettles and cauldrons, earnest students head for the Kairaouine Library (closed to tourists) or opposite to the Medersa Seffarine, which dates back to 1285 making it one of the oldest colleges in the world. I lucked out as one of the handful of chairs outside Café Seffarine in a corner of the square was free, so I sat in the sunshine and people-watched with a mint tea.”

Hamid and his felllow copperware neighbours continue to captivate people from across the world with an art that is not only functional but evokes both a visual and aural charm. No wonder Hamid has been doing this for 44 years.

written by Aysha

Exposé Artisanal :

Exposé Artisanal’s give back pitch

9 02 2014
Exposé Artisanal-Community meeting last monday .Photo : Omar Chenafi

Exposé Artisanal-Community meeting last monday .Photo : Omar Chenafi

An important element to Exposé Artisanal project is the Give Back to the artisan feature.  Even though not spot lit in our proposal it is a factor that is important to our ethos.  This project is principally about celebrating and showing a wave of appreciation to the artisanal community in Fez.  Of course, there being over 30,000 craft makers in this ancient city we do not expect to shake every hand;  but by cultivating a community of citizen reporters, documenting many of the craftspeople, exhibiting the material and eventually publishing a book we aim at recognizing that what goes on and who are behind the doors.  The crafts people, their knowledge, tales and skills are legacy not to be dismissed and are of great value to Fez, Morocco and afar.

It was reconfirmed at our recent project presentation that many an artisan, especially on the tourist route or main streets in Fez medina, are regularly documented and talked about ( not to..) without any benefit to them or their business.  Often they do not even see the material that is printed or screened far from their eyes.  Expose Artisanal and Culture Vultures aims at giving back to the ‘muse’ and show gratitude to him or her by carrying out the following ®

  1. Presenting a copy to all who sat for a portrait in the art book by US photographer Hollis Bennett.
  2. Involve the artisans in our project’s progress.  A round table of craftspeople is planned and will be documented for all to listen to.
  3. A copy of the book Exposé Artisanal is planned to be given to all who are inside its covers.
  4. 10% of profit from the sale on the book Exposé Artisanal** will go into a sustainable creativity exchange program where artisans and artists can exchange ideas and approaches.
  5. Of course, the planned celebration for reaching our funding target ( inchalah) will have its arms wide open and the virtual red carpet laid out for the artisans involved in this project.
Maâlem Mohammed

Maâlem Mohammed

As you may read Exposé Artisanal is an arts and development program in many ways.  The inspiration and approach is fired by our admiration and respect for the people who have thus far opened their workshop doors to Culture Vultures and many an accompanying visitor. To you, we salute.

Jess  Stephens

Expose Artisanal and Culture Vultures Director

  • ®  As always, this is predominantly dependant on us reaching our crowdfunding target;  though seeds are being planted that if not we can pursue other avenues to reach our goal.  Help us realize this project and fund HERE
  • **working title.