Morocco is a beautiful place. A place full of colour, inspiration and importantly life. In the heart of the medina you will meet some of the friendliest people around, eager to welcome you to their world, have you experience what they live and breathe everyday. I was fortunate to visit Sefrou, an old Berber city that once housed the largest Jewish community in Morocco. I was the photographer for the Changing Lives Programme with Coventry University, documenting students engaging with the local community. It was the first trip out to Morocco and it went extremely well. We were able to almost start a dialogue with organisations in Sefrou and retain contacts for future trips and opportunities for development in the area.
During my time in Sefrou, I was astounded at the real skill and work of the artisans. Their craft, their desire to perfect all that they do. Skills that are dying out in this world as we see craftsmen replaced by machines, production lines set in place. Everything is in demand. There is no originality in such items as everyone is wearing the same brands, having the same items. Here it felt different. No two pieces were alike whether it be a garment stitched by hand or a wooden feature carved from bare materials. The creative ideas of the artisans seemed to flow so naturally, a space where all ideas were accepted. The atmosphere was relaxed but you knew that work was being done all around you. The work ethic is also beautiful to witness. People who are truly passionate about the work that they do, caring about each and every item they produce. It was through these observations that my idea came about for my final media project.
Culture Vultures are an organisation who support and promote the work of the artisans in Sefrou and offer artists residencies in line with their craft. The efforts of the organisation are second to none and I felt they deserve a wider acclaim. Therefore, I had an idea to shoot a documentary on the artisans, tying in Culture Vultures and the importance of preserving their work, their skill. I wish to interview some of the artisans that I had the pleasure of previously meeting and hearing their stories. How they perfected their craft, their thoughts on how the world sees their work and thoughts to the future. It is clear that without organisations like Culture Vultures, talented men and women in such places like Sefrou would not get any recognition. Not always that they seek this but more that their skills should be passed on and continued, not lost amidst the sea of industrialisation and the need to replace skilled workers with machines.
I have backing from the organisation and I know the area of Sefrou well. I met people out there that I can now call friends to whom I speak with regularly. The next stage is to work out how I can structure this documentary to work in favour for the artisans, creating a piece that has real significance and means something. I will present my ideas to my lecturers at University and ensure that my passion for this project comes across. It’s going to be an exciting year.
Below are some images that give you an example of the beautiful visuals that can be captured as well as some of the artisans I’d wish to interview. I have also included a link to a video that I partly shot and edited for the Changing Lives Programme, highlighting the programme out in Sefrou. This will give you a little idea of some of the visuals that can be captured out there, I will discuss this further in a future post.