‘If I could plant a seed, or nourish existing seeds of creativity, imagination and confidence to express, in any child or person, I would be proud and happy.’ Kim Simon.
A collaboration between children from the Sefrou medina, Australian creative Kim Simon and Sefrou carpet makers.
Having been to Morocco before as a designer and maker, I wear different shoes this visit. For six weeks I have been working with the dynamic Culture Vultures’ team and supporting them in the eclectic roles of a community focused, cultural arts organisation. Encouraged by Culture Vultures to have a personal project, I decided to choose one that reflects aspects of the organisation that I love. For the past month I have been collaborating, learning and sharing artistically with children and adults from the local Sefrou community.
I was interested to encourage the Sefrou medina children to draw… expressively. This presents as a challenge in a culture that appears to praise conformity and teaches right and wrong ways to think and do, from an early age.
Moroccan children LOVE to draw, anywhere, anytime and with anything. In my time with them, their eagerness to attend groups and to spread colours on a clean white piece of paper was heart felt to enable and watch.
The initial drawing group started with balloons and a discussion to encourage imaginative thinking that explored different types of balloons and things to do with them. Needless to say, the initial days drawings were filled with balloons.
Another day, folding paper and secretly drawing a face, upper body or legs and passing it onto the next person, enticed and expanded the children’s imagination and sense of communal fun in the draw. In this activity, (which the children loved), the development in their confidence to step outside ‘the box’ was instant and welcome.
Assuming artistic license, I transferred the children’s drawings onto graph paper, a coloured cross for every carpet knot to be made. Some carpets are an exact transfer of the children’s A4 drawings; in others I choose an aspect of the drawings to focus the carpet design on, rather than the whole drawing composition.
As I learnt on my previous visit to Morocco, the complexities in communicating different ideas or ways of making can be a challenge. Never assume anything is communicated clearly or understood totally until you see the results. I’m incredibly grateful for the flexibility, skills and understanding of the women who worked on the carpets. I particularly respect their openness and availability to listen to, what must seem, a ‘crazy’ Australian woman who wanted non-functional carpets, 65cm x’s 50cm with long warps remaining along one edge.
May we all take away from this collaboration an increase in awareness and confidence in possibilities and imaginings. The carpets are for the children; the memories and experiences shared and grown from, are for everyone.
MANY MANY thanks to: the children from the Sefrou medina who came to the drawing groups: Aichk , Anas, Aya, Ayu, Akram, Faiza, Fatima Zahra, Hassan, Hassan #2, Ikram, Mohammad, Sara, Sufian, Yousaf,and…; Carrie Craig for liaising with the Dar Chabab to house the groups and for the gathering of children to attend; Jamilla, Fatima, Nazha and Fatima for their patience, flexibility and skills in making the carpets; Fatima for her unconditional and relentless support and professionalism in assisting with all communications in the project; Culture Vultures’ for their encouragement and nurturing of a creative seed in my mind; and Ahmed, Jess and Mitch for their support and enthusiasm to help, always.
Written by Kim Simon