Tag Archives: Goethe Institut

Arab-mediterranean “Art and Development” International Women’s Day Festival, 15th-19th March, 2010, Assilah, Morocco.

6 May

Between the 15th – 19th of March, 2010 I was invited to Assilah, Morocco to participate in the 8th Arab-Mediterranean “Art and Development” International Women’s Day Festival.The exhibition and festival was located in the Centre Hassan II des Recontres Internationale, situated in the heart of the five hundred year old Spanish Medina, near the mouth of the sea port. The festival coincides each year with International Women’s Day and is organised by the artist Wafaa El Houdaybi who is the President of L’Association Marocaine des Créatrices Contemporarines. The festival was opened by the honorary President of the association Acharifa Lalla Oum Keltoum Alaoui, in addition to government officials and ambassadors from many Arabic nations.

Centre Hassan Recontres II

The emphasis of the festival was to support and promote the artistic skills of  rural and urban women in the Arab-Mediterranean nations. The L’Association Marocaine des Créatrices Contemporarines created the festival to showcase the achievements of women and to encourage the artists to sell they artistic products nationally and internationally as an independent means of income.

Eighteen female artists were selected from Morocco for the exhibition, and ten from Australia, Japan, Palestine, Egypt, USA, Slovenia, Libya, Argentina, and Italy. The exhibition included a variety of paintings, and sculptural works, some of which were produced on location during the festival, all encompassing the different views of women.

Some focused on Islamic tradition and the world of women behind the veil, such as Palestinian artist Abouhassan Samira who exhibited a portrait of her sister in traditional dress. Other works were deeply rooted in spiritual and religious beliefs of the universe, such as the paintings of Wafaa El Houda.

The Slovenian artist, Natasha Novak, presented a series titled Korant Children which is based on the masks worn during a festival that is meant to scare off the winter. Natasha explained to me that the Korant masks are only worn by men during the festival. She imagined the children of these ghoulish Korant characters, and portrayed them in her haunting series.

Natasha Novak and her Korant Children

Natasha Novak, Korant Children Series, acrylic on board, 2010.

The American artist, Patricia Goodrich, presented a series of abstract landscape paintings based on map patterns, and one of her signature river stone sculptures polished by hand.

Patricia Goodrich

I exhibited paintings that used personal symbolism to express my response to my dislocation from Australia and relocation to Germany. Refuge Nest, was a site specific sculpture that I created from fishing nets, mosaic tiles, blue thread and eggs found in Assilah. The nest provides a temporary home or refuge where I can connect to the people, culture and environment of a foreign place.

Kim Goldsmith

Refuge Nest Outdoor Installation, mixed media, 2010.

Alongside the exhibition, women from the Sahara Desert near Mauritania, were selling their silk and wool woven rugs, cushions and blankets. The group travel across Morocco every year with their wares to make an income during the festival. Two video artists, Margarita Manev and Paco F. Parado, collaborated during the festival by showcasing a video of the Moroccan women rug making. The duo video document art and craft traditions of women in indigenous, nomadic, or remote communities as a means to promote awareness and support of women who may suffer inequality.

To coincide with the exhibition, there were a series of musical performances during the evening at Centre Hassan. Group Rayula and Cordatum is an instrumental group from Germany and Switzerland that performed a repertoire of fourteenth century Italian love songs the origins of which lie in occidental musical practice. Group Al Houda and ensemble Al Jazouli, on separate occasions, performed Sufi music for the festival guests. The highlight of the evening activities was a fashion show of traditional Moroccan Kaftans, Introduced by Safae Melihi.

Three women artists creating together.

The most obvious benefit of the festival, from my perspective, was the connections that were created between women of differing religious and cultural backgrounds. By sharing the exhibition space with the rug weavers, I learned a lot about the traditions of Moroccan women.  I discovered many small things that I would never read in a book, like  how to use a twig from a bush in the Sahara to brush my teeth! On a broader level, I found that women artists share a common bond through the language of their art and craft, and this is something that disintegrates any cultural boundaries. I didn’t speak any French, Spanish or Arabic yet through my art I was able to share my own perspective. The friendships, and mutual respect for each others creative efforts, were the most valuable rewards I gained from my participation in this festival.


If you can read French, check out these links which include information about the festival, in particular, Margharita and Paco’s video project in Asilah, supported by the Goethe Institut.






Also, in click on the tab “articles” in the top header of this website and you will find an article written in Arabic by Said Kadry for the Journal of Today’s Morocco, which includes a picture of me with my paintings. I attempted to translate the article in English via Google translator, it is not perfect but you get the idea!