Artist in Residency Program – AiR Artisan

16 11 2013

Artists Call Out 

Residency 7th April – 6th May 2014.

Application deadline –  3rd January 2014.

Fez. Morocco.

Artists and designers are invited to apply for a one month artist residency with an attribute of working alongside a Fassi artisan. Culture Vultures invites designers, visual artists, installation artists, writers, musicians, performers, researchers or conceptual artists to spend a month investigating and practicing the techniques,  materials and personalities of the traditional crafts masters in Fez. The definition of artist is broad.  C.V. has a preference to unexpected collaborations that combine both approaches and an in-depth exchange.


AiR Artist – Artisan – Spend a month residing in a house in the ancient city of Fez, the world’s largest car-free urban metropolis and Moroccan capitol of crafts. Recognized by UNESCO and many national and international development organizations as a valued heritage of Fez, the crafts and their makers play an important role in the cast of this magical North African city. Artists will be housed together in a traditional house in the medina of Fez and spend extensive  time in the workshops of the artisans.


When – This residency will take place from 7th April to 6th May 2014.

Culture Vultures is an arts and cultural organization based in the Fez region. Founded in 2009 by visual artists Jess Stephens, C.V. has a rich and active portfolio of activities that encourage cross culture encounters through an arts agenda. With Jess’ experience in facilitating artist’s visits, projects and presentations in Morocco and good relations with a network of artisans based in the medina and beyond this residency promises food for thought, material for creativity and insightful exchanges.


Artisans portfolio  – Local artisans that are in C.V.s netwrok and welcome an artist into their working environment include traditional plaster carvers, potters, metal workers, weavers, mosaic ( zeliig) artists, carpet knitters, wood carvers, tailors  and tanners.


The program includes

  • Orientation of Fez medina. A half tour of the labyrinth-like old city of Fez with a historical guide.
  • An artisanal tour – an introduction to some of the artisans of the medina and the new artisanal centre for training.
  • Artists dinners. Informal dinners where visiting artists are introduced to the  Fez arts community.
  • Weekly lectures, round tables and presentations.
  • 2 excursions out of Fez to get a fresh perspective of the surrounding area.

Price   950 €


Half board, comfortable accommodation in the medina of Fez.

Extensive workshop time with the artisans and skills exchange.

Professional facilitation between visiting artists and artisans.

The rich program of activities mentioned above.

Does not include

Travel to or from Fez at either side of the residency.


One meal a day.

Application deadline January 3rd 2014.

Note – Full residency places are limited to 8 people. Places are secured after confirmation from the organization and a deposit is paid.

For an application form and proposal outline write to Jess at

All images courtesy of The Art of Islamic Pattern 

culture vultures


Malhun – Andalucian Artisanal Poetry.

15 07 2013

Malhun or milhun (Arabic الملحون / ALA-LC: al-malḥūn), meaning “the melodic poem”, is a Moroccan music that borrows its modes from the Andalusian music. It is a kind of urban, sung poetry that comes from the exclusively masculine working-class milieu of craftsmen’s guilds.



The melhun, originally a pure literary creation, emerged as a poetic art today known in Morocco under the name of “qasida” (meaning “poem”) (Arabic: القصيدة) or “zajal” (Arabic: الزجل). Combined with music, it quickly spread across the country where it acquired fame particularly among artisans.


The qasida (laqsida in Moroccan arabic) of the malhun is based on two essential elements: the overtures preceding it and the parts of which it is composed. Aqsam (Arabic: الأقسام) verses sung solo interrupted by the harba refrain (meaning launch)[citation needed] (Arabic: الحربة). Harba, the origin of which goes back to the 16th century, is a refrain taken up between the verses by the sheddada (Arabic: الشدادة), a group of singers and instrumentalist-singers). Another refrain called dridka (Arabic: الدريدكة) is a simplified form of the harba, taking off from an accelerated rhythm to announce the end of a qassida.

malhun music

The qasida however preserved the division of the text in stanzas as in the Andalusian song: the verse (ghson, meaning “branch”) can include from eight to sixteen verses, a short refrain or harba offers an alternation which makes it possible to break the monotony of the musical discourse of the Malhoun song. This gave rise to the suruf, subsidiary procedures employed by singers to produce an even greater effect on the audience and above all to correct the rhythm. Abdelaziz al-Maghrawi (16th 17th centuries) created from “dān”, a word that has no meaning, verses which were used as the basis for versewriting by Moroccan folk poets. (e.g. Dān dāni yā dāni dān dān yā dān).

Famous figures

Among the former authors of melhoun, there is Abdelaziz al-Maghrawi and Abderrahman El Majdoub (died 1568) who was famous for his mystical quatrains. In 18th and 19th centuries, Morocco knew a great number of poets who, from Fez, Meknes or Marrakech spread popular poetry who adopted the melhoun. Examples are Kaddour El Alamy and Thami Midaghri. In modern days, Haj Houcine Toulali(1924–1998) was the most prominent figure in the malhun music.

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